Burns Charity Ball 2017

 We held our Burns Charity Ball at the Rockingham Forest Hotel, Corby.  It was agreed to hold the event early to maximize the numbers able to attend.  Preparations took a lot of hard work over two months  to get everything just right.  One week before the event it was not looking too promising as ticket sales were very low.  However in the last week there was a surge of interest and numbers reached a respectable 120.  On entering the ballroom, the setting looked most impressive with all the tables’ decked out in tartan runners, table flags and Burns menu cards.  The Burns Supper is an institution of Scottish life: a night to celebrate the life and works of the national Bard.  The skirl of the pipes could be heard by those attending as the Piper, Chairperson and President welcomed the arriving guests: the piper played until  the high table was ready to be seated, at which point a round of applause was given to the dignitaries. Tony Constable recited with passion “The Selkirk Grace”.  This is a short but important prayer read to usher in the meal.  Although the text is often printed in English, it is usually recited in Scots.

 Some hae meat and canna eat,                                                                            

And some wad eat that want it,                                                                            

 But we hae meat and we can eat,                                                                         

 And sae the Lord be thankit.

 All the guests were upstanding to welcome the dinner’s star attraction, which was delivered on a silver platter by a procession comprising of the Chef, Piper and Mr Robert Eccles carrying the whisky to ensure that the toasts are well lubricated.  During the procession, the guests clapped in time to the music until the Haggis had reached its destination at the table.  The music stopped and everyone was seated in anticipation of the address. The honoured, Mr Eccles now seizes his moment of glory by delivering an entertaining rendition of “To a Haggis”.  With his knife poised at the ready and on cue

 (His knife see Rustic-labour dight), he cuts the casing along its length, making sure he spills out some of the tasty gore within (trenching its gushing entrails).  The recital ended with Robert raising the Haggis in triumph during the final line Gie her a haggis!, which the guests greet with  rapturous applause.  The guests were now served an excellent three course meal along with liberal lashings of wine or ale served with dinner and the customary dousing of the haggis with a splash of whisky sauce. After the Haggis course the M.C. introduced Mr Duncan MacDonald who would reply for the Haggis with an amusing poem to complement the earlier entertainment.  The speeches were concluded by Mrs Helen Neal who was the keynote speaker.  She took to the stage and delivered a spell-binding oratorical on the life of Robert Burns, his literary genius, his politics, his highs and lows, his human frailty and - most importantly - his nationalism.  The speech bridged the dangerous chasm between serious intent and sparkling wit, whilst painting a colourful picture of Scotland’s beloved Bard. Special entertainers were the M.A.S.H. dancers of all ages who  performed to the guests a mixture of all types of dances to Scottish tunes which set the scene for the Maira Addy Band to start our  dancing programme.  Jigs, Reels, Old Thyme and Modern all came and went with joyous abandonment but as all good things they must come to an end and the chairperson now climbed to her unsteady feet to thank everyone who had contributed to a wonderful evening and that taxis would be arriving shortly.  The chair closed the proceedings by inviting everyone to stand and make a circle and belt out a rousing rendition of Auld Lang Syne.  The company joined hands and sang as one.