2019 – Annual Celebration

On Saturday 25th January, 2019, The Greenock Burns Club met in the Tontine Hotel, Greenock for their 217th Annual Celebration.

The Top Table guests were piped in by Billy McCready, Past President. Thereafter, Club President June Forbes chaired the proceedings and warmly welcomed everyone.

Jack Glennie, Past President then said “The Selkirk Grace”.

The haggis was then piped into the room with Alastair Hendry, Honorary President, giving his rendition of “Address To a Haggis”.

After a very enjoyable meal, Abby Brown from Port Glasgow High School, entertained the company with her rendition of “John Anderson My Jo” and “There’ll Never Be Peace Till Jamie Comes Hame”. Later in the evening she sang “Ay Fond Kiss”. All songs were sang beautifully and unaccompanied.

We then heard from Karen Kane, who gave us her excellent rendition of “The rights of women”, which was much appreciated by everyone.

June Forbes then had the pleasure of introducing Bobby Kane, the principal speaker of the evening, to propose his Toast to the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns. Bobby is a Past President of the Robert Burns World Federation

Bobby’s Immortal Memory covered numerous aspects of Burns’s life and his works, referencing his poetry and his letters. He also spoke of persons who were great influences in Burns’s work, including James Cunningham, Earl of Glencairn, who lived locally at Finlaystone Estate. At the conclusion, Bobby rightfully received a well-earned standing ovation for his efforts.


The Toast to The Mother Club was proposed by Fiona Maguire, CEO Of Riverside Inverclyde, who made reference to the Club history but also to the present relationship with the Club. In particular, she spoke of the partnership between RI and the Mother Club, which resulted in the opening of the Greenock Burns Club Exhibition and Archive within the Greenock Customhouse Building and the efforts we make to have the Exhibition and Archive open to visitors every Saturday and on days that cruise ships are visiting the town. She also praised the work carried out by our members, who volunteer to give visitors a tour around the building during the annual “Doors Open Day”. She stated that The Mother Club had more than fulfilled their obligations and she looked forward to the future.

Senior Vice-President Alan D. Beck thanked Fiona Maguire for an excellent toast and hoped that the successful partnership would be in existence for many years to come.

The Toast to the Lasses was proposed by Drew McKenzie, a well known speaker in the Burns circuit. Drew is a Master Butcher and operates Robert Alexanders Butchers shop in Port Glasgow, which was established by his grand-father man many decades ago. As if drew was not busy enough, he is an elected Independent Councillor on Inverclyde Council representing Port Glasgow.

Drew entertained us with his light-hearted and witty observations of the lasses, interspersed with suitable facts and Burns verse to reinforce his case.

Replying to the Toast to the Lasses was Baroness Goldie DL.

Annabel was born and educated in Inverclyde before studying for a law degree at the University of Glasgow. She was elected as a Conservative MSP from 1999 to 2011 and was leader of the Scottish Conservatives from 2005 until 2011. In 2013 she was made a life-peer and took her seat in the house of Lords. She is currently a Baroness in Waiting (Government Whip in the House of Lords). She also serves on Advisory Board for the West of Scotland Salvation Army.

Both received well-deserved standing ovations from the company. The camp was split as to who won the tussle, although the Lasses were adamant that they got one over on the men.

As the evening continued, we were entertained by Club member David Brown who gave us his rendition of ” Death and Dr. Hornbook”.

As is the tradition at The Mother Club, June Forbes thanked Bobby Kane for an excellent delivery of the principal toast and thereafter installed him as Honorary President for 2019 by investing him with his badge of Office. Bobby was also presented with a certificate, which shows the names of all those who have proposed the Immortal Memory since 1886. In reply to the occasion, Bobby expressed his delight at receiving the honour.

At the end of the programme, Christine Currie, Junior Vice-President, gave a very comprehensive and sincere Vote of Thanks to all who had made the evening a resounding success.


The evening came to a close with Alan D. Beck and Abby Brown leading the company in singing Auld Lang Syne.

The Photo gallery for the evening can be found HERE

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