Annual Burns’ Night 2018

The Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro. Archibald Iain Torrance, and his wife Maggie, were delighted to welcome 209 guests to the annual Mark Province of Kent Burns’ Night held at the Mercure Hotel, Maidstone on Saturday 27th January 2018.

Annual Burns’ Night 2018

L-R Ian Gallehawk, Peter Hayler, Toni Ward, Brian Ward, Chic Cameron and Peter Dowling - the organising team

Guests were warmly welcomed into the foyer by members of the Kent Mark Stewards’ Lodge who were on hand to give assistance, if and when required. In the foyer, guests were given the opportunity to purchase tickets for the Egyptian Prize draw while they mingled and chatted with friends and acquaintances, while being entertained by the skirl of the pipes. Chris Eley, APGM for Mark Province of Surrey, was on hand to take photographs with all proceeds going to the 2020 Festival. Chris stood in at the last moment for Bob Tuthill who is recovering from surgery. We all wish Bob a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him up and about again soon.

At just before 6pm the Master of Ceremonies, Chic Cameron, called for guests to be seated in the banqueting hall, which had been beautifully decorated in a Scottish theme by Toni Ward. At 6pm precisely the Provincial Grand Master and Maggie Torrance where escorted into the dining room by the piper, Victor Murrell, playing the very well-known tune Scotland the Brave.

The Selkirk Grace was given by Chic Cameron. There then followed a grand entrance and parade around the banqueting hall of a magnificent Macsween Chieftain Haggis, borne by the Hotel Chef. This parade of the Haggis was led by the piper accompanied by the PGM. A theatrical and spectacular Address to a Haggis (written by Robert Burns) was delivered by the Provincial Grand Master, which included removing the Chef’s hat with a flourish of the piper’s dirk. A hearty toast to the haggis was then proposed by the Provincial Grand Master and eagerly taken up by all the guests, before the haggis was returned to the kitchen for serving.

During the meal, the guests were encouraged to purchase raffle tickets for various raffles organised by David Austin, Wally Freeman and Peter Hayler. Sincere thanks are extended to all who provided raffle prizes for the evening. On completion of the meal consisting of haggis, followed by braised beef, then cranachan, the Loyal Toast was given by the Provincial Grand Master.

As the meal neared completion and coffee was being served the first surprise of the evening unfolded. A splendid chocolate birthday cake alight with sparklers was presented to our birthday boy of the evening Fred Brown along with birthday balloons and tee shirt commemorating the year of his birth. During this presentation a spontaneous chorus of Happy Birthday was sung by the guests. All this to an astonished and speechless Fred Brown. Gotcha! Happy birthday Fred, we hope you had a wonderful evening.

There then followed two raffles, the first was ‘the £50 note raffle prize’. This was drawn by the PGM’s wife Maggie. Peter Hayler then presented Maggie with a bunch of flowers. The second raffle to be drawn was the Egyptian raffle. This was drawn by a member of the hotel staff. The prize was won by Glynis Chatfield. Following the draw, Peter Lapage, who donated the prize, announced that the raffle had made in excess of £3,000. Spontaneous applause erupted from the audience.

The Toast to the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns was delivered with aplomb by Bobby Smith, Past Master of Lodge Loudoun Kilwinning Newmilns No. 51, the PGM’s very own family Lodge in Ayrshire, Scotland. Bobby is also currently the Master of Lodge Darvel No. 971, which meets in the neighbouring town. The PGM then took the opportunity to present Bobby with a Mark Benevolent Fund Patron collarette and certificate and thanked him for all his support to the Province and to our 2020 Festival.

The PGM remained on his feet and announced that he had two other special presentations to make. The first was a framed MBF Patron collarette and certificate to Chris Marinello to thank him for all his help in recovering the stolen Provincial ceremonial sword which had been inappropriately advertised for sale by a London Auction House in 2017. He then went on to present an MBF Grand Patron Diamond Award to Christopher Metherell. This award was only introduced by the MBF in January 2018 and is the highest honour it currently offers. Chris is the very first person to receive the award in the Province. Both presentations received thunderous applause from the audience.

There then followed the Toast tae the Lassies by Ian Gallehawk, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, in a very capable and amusing manner. Lesley Fairweather responded on behalf of the lassies with a witty and clever reply before being presented with a bouquet of flowers by Ian Gallehawk.

The audience were then treated to the first 20-minute set of hilarious songs by Tom Quinn, Deputy PGM for the Mark Province of London, accompanied by his wife Eunice on the keyboard. The song sheets provided allowed for lively audience participation. Tom and Eunice were applauded from the stage for a well-deserved break which allowed the main raffle to be drawn. This was organised by David Austin and Wally Freeman. Having refreshed and hydrated themselves Tom and Eunice returned to the stage to perform their second set of musical entertainment. Their set ended to thunderous and appreciative applause from the audience but before they could retire the PGM and his wife Maggie then presented Tom and Eunice with whisky and flowers respectively, accompanied by more applause from the audience.

The PGM remained on the floor to make his final presentation of the evening which was a Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master’s collarette to Ralph Apperley for his four years of service in that role. The presentation was warmly received by the audience.

At this point of the evening it is traditional for the Provincial Executive to take to the stage and sing. Having practiced long and hard and with their final vocal exercises completed, they strutted confidently to the floor to deliver an enthusiastic version of 500 Miles by the Scottish band, The Proclaimers. Backing music was provided by ‘Where’s Brian’ with the audience joining in for the chorus. Despite the tremendous energy and enthusiasm exhibited by the Executive, no encore was called for by the audience! Again!

The rest of the evening was given over to dancing to the music of ‘Where’s Brian’ which was enjoyed by everyone. This was evidenced by the fact that the dance floor was never empty from the moment they started to play until the final chord was struck at just before midnight. There then followed Auld Lang Syne, the traditional end to every Burns Night. The PGM then took to the stage to thank everyone for coming and to wish them a safe journey home. He also thanked the organising team, which consisted of Brian and Toni Ward, Ian Gallehawk, Peter Hayler, Peter Dowling, Tony Waspe and Chic Cameron and many others who assisted for all their hard work and efforts in making the evening such a huge success.

The PGM said: “We are also grateful for wonderful sponsorship of Summers Motors Limited, Headcorn Road, Biddenden, Kent and to the following Lodges who all contributed to the success of the event – Malling Abbey Mark 1425, Robinson R.A.M. 255, Folkestone R.A.M. 380, St. Peter’s R.A.M. 842 and Malling Abbey R.A.M. 1425. Thank you all so much.

“I am also very pleased to announce that with sponsorship the evening raised over £6,500 for the Mark Benevolent Fund, which will also count towards our 2020 Festival total.

“We are now looking forward to our next Burns Night which will again be held at the Mercure Hotel, Hollingbourne on Saturday 26th January 2019. Please do book in as soon as the fliers are published”.

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