Monday 14 December 2009

Mabel Irving’s Funeral 4th December 2009

Although touched with sadness, the funeral of Mabel Irving was an uplifting occasion and I was honoured to represent the Federation. A variety of speakers recalled with fondness the different aspects of Mabel’s colourful life as a poet, thespian, teacher and lady of strong Christian faith.
As a good friend of Mabel, Chronicle Editor, Peter Westwood gave a humorous and very thoughtful eulogy on ‘Mabel the Burnsian’ and highlighted her major achievement of being the first female President of Greenock Burns Club, the Mother Club.
One of her own poems was read out at the service and seemed so apt for the occasion and perfectly reflected the dignity of one of the Federation’s most distinguished Burnsians.
There is a time, 'the good Lord said
'To laugh, and, yes to cry,
To bear and to be born,' said He
In My Good Time - to die!
Scottish Southern Counties Burns Association (SSCBA) 5th December 2009

The SSCBA held their usual well-attended and lively meeting in the Globe Inn at which they reflected on the wonderful Homecoming Concert, organised by the Howff Burns Club, and held in the Dumfries DG One Auditorium a couple of weeks earlier.

Also notable was the highly successful book entitled, A Wee Kist o’ Verse produced by the Howff Burns Club which features 100 of the 600 poems in the Scots language submitted by primary schools right across Dumfries and Galloway. As Howff Burns Club President John Caskie says in the forward, “there is no better way to keep alive the rich legacy of the old Scots’ tongue than to encourage youngsters to read and study the works of the National Bard.” Having a scan through my copy I can only echo John’s sentiments and congratulate all the children who took part with such obvious enthusiasm and poetic skill and thank all their teachers for encouraging them.

The Festival of St Andrew Service in St Giles Cathedral 6th December 2009

I had the pleasure and honour of leading the Federation delegation at the annual Festival of St Andrew Service at St Giles Cathedral on Edinburgh'sRoyal Mile.

We met up in the very grand Signet Library which was turned into a gigantic dressing room as robes, hats, gowns and chains of office were donned ready for the procession to the Cathedral.

Looking down on us all from the fine dome ceiling in the library was the Bard himself (left side with blue sleeve), sitting beside William Shakespeare, and, hopefully, giving an approving wink at the assembled Burnsians keeping his memory alive. As the honourable members of the Order of the Thistle proceeded through the Cathedral I couldn’t help noting that three of them, Lord Steel of Aikwood, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen and Lord MacFarlane of Bearsden appear in Andy Hall’s book Touched by Burns which I had been reading over breakfast that very morning. In it they all extol the philosophies of the Poet and declare themselves as strong devotees of his works so I felt all the more proud to represent the Federation at such an auspicious occasion.

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