My name is Bill Hughes and I’m honoured to be the President of the Halifax Burns Club. Our club is based on the Tarbolton Bachelors Club, a club founded by Robert Burns and in 1780, 226 years ago. I have the pleasure to meet with a great bunch of guys at least once a month at the club and more regularly at the pub. We all met just a few nights ago to put on a wee Burns Supper at Camphill Veterans Hospital as we’ve done for the last couple of years. I have to tell you, it’s food for the soul to see how much these people enjoy our visits. Being a great humanitarian, Burns himself would be proud.
Tonight, I would like to welcome you to our 9th annual Burns Supper. People all over the world are meeting in pubs, hotels and clubs to honour the memory and works of Robert Burns and to share in the fraternity of Burnsians. Burns poetry has been translated in to many languages and the song ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is arguably the most recognized tune in the world. I see many old faces here who have come to celebrate the life and works of Burns with us. I also see some new faces here…..welcome to our new friends, you’re sure in for a treat! We also have some very new members of our club who will début their talents here tonight.
Robert Burns was born in Alloway Scotland on January 25th 1759. He was born in hard times when people lived on the land and toiled to make a meager living. Burns father recognized the importance of an education and had to scrimp to have him educated. In reality, Burns was only schooled for a few years; however, he was a prolific writer of letters, songs and poetry. He worked as an excises man (tax man) for a time and often rode 200 miles a week attending to his duties while still tend to his farm. Burns died on July 21, 1796 at the very early age of 37. His son, Maxwell was born on July 25, 1796, the same day as Burns was buried.
We are pleased to have Bill Hewitt with us here tonight. Bill comes highly recommended by our speaker from last year, Mr. Jack Glenny. Those of you, who were sober enough to remember Jack, will also remember his fine immortal memory. Well, Jack tells me that we’re all in for a special treat tonight. Bill is a past presidents of the Greenock Burns Club, the Mother club and the oldest Burns club in existence…..nothing but the best for our Burns Supper!
So it’s without further adieu, I’ll hand you back to our MC for tonight and for the previous 8 Burns Suppers, the newly retired and indispensable…Mr. Bill Forster!
This speech was written and delivered by Bill Hughes at the Burns Supper in 2006.