Barrmill Jolly Beggars Burns Club held their Jean Armour and Olympic Troch Dinner on Saturday May 12 in Beith Masonic Hall with 90 members, guests and friends of the club in attendance. All were welcomed to the venue by the piping of Past President Gordon Wilson. President David Pettigrew was in the chair and introduced his 22 special guests for this memorable evening, arguably one of the best ever in the annals of the club.
Among the invited guests were Councillor Jean Highgate; Councillor Robert Barr, and Elma Murray, Chief Executive, North Ayrshire Council. After a first class meal, the President read a letter of congratulations from HM Queen to Barrmill Jolly Beggars on the occasion of their special evening. Grace before the meal was proposed by Rev Fiona C Ross and after a superb meal the President proposed the loyal toast making special mention of the Diamond Jubilee year of HM Queen.
The evening got underway with everyone enjoying the superduo, Archie Comrie (guitar) and Gordon McKellar (accordion), with their usual array of foot-tapping music. Iain Shaw was next to perform reciting two fascinating poems.
The principal toast of the evening to Jean Armour, wife of Robert Burns, was proposed by Rev Fiona C Ross, who was in her usual magnificent form in a well researched, knowledgeable, witty and well delivered speech. This was replied to by club Hon President and secretary, Donald L Reid, thanking Fiona for such an entertaining toast.
The first half finished with the hugely talented Cheryl Forbes, mezzo-soprana, who held the audience captivated with a fine range and variety of songs, many from popular broadway shows.
The next speaker was former top British Athlete, Brian Whittle, who gave an inspirational toast to the 2012 Olympics focussing on his life in athletics and highlighting some of the memorable experiences in his career which was illustrated on screen. The reply to this toast was delivered by Elma Murray, Chief Executive, North Ayrshire Council who spoke about the many past and present athletes from North Ayrshire who were good ambassadors for the area and for young people in particular.
She saw the 2012 Olympics as an opportunity to further encourage join working among voluntary groups and the public sector in order to encourage young people in sports. She looked forward to seeing the Olympic flame passing through Beith on June 8 and said what a wonderful occasion it would be for locals and visitors to the town.
Hon Club President Iain Skene then read two short poems by Robert Burns and the second half was brought to a fine conclusion by singer and entertainer, Gordon Cree, who was first really first class.
The final part of the evening began with a speech from Kilbirnie Rosebery Club president, Jim Gibson, who thanked the Jolly Beggars on behalf of all the invited guests. The remainder of the evening was given over to Cheryl Forbes and Gordon Cree performing some magnificent duets, greatly appreciated by the mesmerised audience. The toast to the guests and artistes was delivered by JVP John Waite and the President reiterated how enjoyable the evening had been before everyone joined in singing Auld Lang Syne. All in all it proved to be an exceptional night of top rank speeches and entertainment.