|Burns Supper and Disco -
Friday 30th January 2015
Friday 30 January saw a first for the Mark Province of Kent. WBro Ray Collings, whose previous fund raising efforts are the stuff of legend, organised the very first Mark Province of Kent Burns Supper and Disco in support of the Kent Mark 2020 Festival. Bro Ray has much experience of organising such events. It was, therefore, with much anticipation that members of the Province were quick to ensure that they had a seat booked at the event.
To make attendance as easy as possible, WBro Ray organised the event to take place at the Maidstone Mercure Great Danes hotel. As can be seen from the pictures, this proved to be an excellent venue. Over 150 guests sat down to dine in a marvellous atmosphere with appropriate decoration and lights suitably dimmed.
The event started in traditional fashion with Mr Victor Murrell, the piper for the evening, playing some traditional Scottish pipe tunes before piping the haggis as ancient tradition demands.
Not many Provinces have been fortunate enough to host such an event as this. Even fewer have had the honour of seeing the Provincial Grand Master follow the haggis into the room. The Mark Province of Kent is, however, privileged to have as its Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Archibald I. Torrance. RW Bro Archie delivered the Selkirk Grace and then further delighted the gathering with the Address to a Haggis, as shown in the attached pictures. RW Bro Archie is famous for his skill at this presentation and, on this occasion, it was presented with his traditional aplomb! His delivery was as impeccable and entertaining as ever. Indeed, it would have been worth attending the event just to take the once a year opportunity to hear RW Bro Archie’s address.
WBro Bobby Smith delivered a Recitation entitled Willie Wastle to a hushed audience and followed up with the toast to The Immortal Memory of Robert Burns. The hushed silence and spontaneous applause said it all about the skill of the delivery.
The toast to the ladies was proposed by WBro Ralph Apperley and an excellent response was delivered by Ms Maggie Wyatt. Throughout the evening, WBro Ray Collings acted as compere and proved again to be a most excellent host!
As well as the fun and good company, the main purpose of the evening was to support the Kent Mark 2020 Festival. Work on this had begun before the event as WBro Peter Laker MBE had been selling raffle tickets for the “Bunbury Bunny” (see the picture of WBro Peter and the Bunny) in the build up to the evening and continued on the night. Total ticket sales achieved a staggering £1,660! Having seen the draw made, it was then announced that the Kent Mark Benevolent Fund would match fund the amount raised, doubling WBro Peter’s already magnificent efforts.
The fund raising didn’t end there. WBro Fred Brown brought two knitted dolls in Scottish highland wear with him. The guests donated a further £166 in an attempt to guess the dolls’ names, while the raffle raised £938, supplemented by £107 from a round of “heads and tails” to win a bottle of whisky. WBro Ian Gallehawk provided wonderful support for Ray Collings on all of the fund raising and also is credited with taking the lovely group photographs.
In all, the evening raised a total of £4,531 towards the 2020 Festival! RW Bro Archie Torrance observed: “For obvious reasons, Burns Night is an important event for me. I was delighted this year to celebrate the day in the company of so many members of the Province with their friends and families. I’d like to thank WBro Ray for his hard work in bringing about such an excellent evening. To raise over £4,500 for the Festival is amazing. Our intention is that this will now be an annual event. If you missed this year’s event, make sure you book for next year in plenty of time! It will be held on Saturday 30th January 2016 at the Mercure Great Danes Hotel, Maidstone, Kent.”
The evening would not have been right without some Scottish dancing. Following a display of dancing skill, the Orpington and District Caledonian Society had little difficulty in convincing the majority of guests to join them for instruction and entertainment. Dancing to Tuxedo Class extended into the evening, with weary guests retiring to their rooms at 1am, tired but very happy at the events of a truly outstanding evening.
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