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2013 Burns Nights Public Service

January, 2013

Throughout much of recent recorded history, it seems, meetings and discussions and celebrations and investitures have been important occasions for people of like minds to get together.

Not many people know that Robert Burns, Scotland’s Bard of the 18th century, was famously inducted into the Fellowship of Masons and that occasion was immortalised in this painting.

As for the rest of us mortals, a regular business meeting of the Allendale Lions Club would have to suffice, without a photographic record to memorialise the event, though big on the agenda for this first meeting of 2013 was the planning and preparation for the annual Burns Night Supper.

It appears from the minutes that the event was going to be held as usual in the Main Hall, with the regular band (HedgeHog’s Skin from Hexham) encouraging the popular dancing. This year as usual we’d have the supper, and the annual toasts and speeches, some singing and additional impromptu turns, while imbibing copious draughts of the golden libation. Carrie Winger and Larry promised to ensure that the event ran smoothly this year.

As of the 7th of January, 36 tickets had already been sold, but 60 tickets would need to be divested to achieve a break-even point. Everyone really wanted to have a great time, in the gloom of winter, now that the Festive Season was waning in our memories.

The meeting was also in receipt of a letter from Margaret Bowes thanking the Lions for the shopping trip the club had put on (also known as Grab-a-Granny). It had looked like this trip was going to be in difficulty, at our meeting in December, owing to decreasing availability of seats and helpers to push the various wheelchairs, but somehow Nigel Baynes and his team managed to pull everyone together to take the older and less able folks out on the toon for a shopping adventure!

The minutes record that Peter Aldcroft made a reprise presentation of his ‘fun certificates’ to both Richard Snowden and John Dobson for their successful and long-suffering Santa duties on the sleigh, which this year amassed some £700 in donations for the charitable re-distribution. Sometimes these certificates did not make it into Nigel Baynes wonderful archive, so they can’t be depicted here in anything more than text.

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2012 Burns Nights Fundraising

New Business . . . 2012

The first set of minutes that I can find for 2012 are those of our Business meeting of February. It seems that the main topic of the evening concerned two of the Lions’ promotions: the annual Burns Night just gone, and the forthcoming gig at the village hall with The Proper Boys.

As I recall, I pushed the envelope, rather, to create a song book and programme for the evening celebrating Robbie Burns, and populated its pages with a variety of iconic Burns memorabilia. This image shows the witches cavorting as described in the immortal Tam O’ Shanter.

The report at the Business Meeting suggested that a great time was had by all, sure enough, with the piper, the food and the planned extra space for dancing much appreciated. The main discussion, however, dealt with the issue of payment for the caterer. Essentially, the problem seems to have been that the matter of costs and labour had not been specified, so that the free-flowing cash distributed on the night (eg from bar takings) for the waiting-on staff was not properly controlled. Since the caterer was not part of the Lions Club, but had been taken on to give the catering Lions a break, a few communications had broken down. It was hoped that these matters could be resolved in time for the next meeting. Prue, however, was pleased with the brown envelope raffle and reported that this new system had worked very well, eliciting more cash than usual.

The consensus in the Club was that the whole financial apparatus surrounding Burns Nights needed to be tightened up, so this would doubtless be a priority for next year. It’s also fair to note that the balance of the Charity Account, after the Burns Night do (but possibly before all outstanding invoices were paid) stood at £4,359.79, so that there appeared to be a reasonable amount of money in the coffer with which the club could go ahead with plans for the May Fair, and charitable donations.

Another potential money-spinner for the Charity Account coffers, however, was the upcoming Proper Boys gig, which marked a new venture for the Lions Club, also to be held in the village hall. Apparently the promotions were well in hand, but to break even some £600 would have to be raised (tickets were going at £10 each).

There was some consternation within the club over the advance publicity circulating on facebook. News had reached Allendale of event crashes when similar events had been publicised on the new and emerging social media. Our media-savvy members agreed that they would look into the facebook issue and report back at the next meeting.

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2008 Burns Nights

Burns Night 2008

The haggis receives a rousing welcome, as it’s paraded around the room

I remember this Burns Night very well. I think.

Though it’s true that images retrieved from a dusty old CD, otherwise lost to the ages, do help to bring those memories alive again.

Ed Aldcroft may have lead the singing, or perhaps he was providing ambience in the small hall and bar area, since the main dining event was in the main hall.

The spooky image of Rabbie Burns was projected and felt appropriately ghostly, as we went through the speeches, including the Immortal Memory. Sylvia Milburn doubtless gave the Lasses’ Response, after the Toast to the Lasses.

It had to have been this Burns Night, however, that I declaimed my own tribute to Allendale, Calor Village of the Year, written in the style of Burns’ poetry, if not of the right dialect. I think the poem is sufficiently available, as in the pages of Allendale Diary, for example, not to need repeating here.

And then, at the end of the evening, the dancing, lead by David Oliver’s Hedgehog Skin band, finished the proceedings off with great delight.

But who took the photos? And how did I end up with a dusty old CD full of memories? These are some of the mysteries of the near-past.