January 25th saw a touch of Scotland descend on our meeting as we celebrated Burn’s Night in style.
Ellie Zheleva as Sergeant at Arms welcomed members and guests to the meeting before introducing our own resident Scotsman, Ray Adams as Toastmaster.
Ray explained that the evening was the 220th anniversary of the death of Robert Burns, the famous Scots poet, and that Scotsmen around the world would be honouring his memory that night.
Ray then explained about the meeting and our protocols.
He then called upon Aaron O’Sullivan to explain the lights and his role as Timekeeper.
Ray next asked Sophy Smith to explain her role as Grammarian. Sophy indicated she would be looking for good and bad uses of language, including the use of filler words. She then gave the word of the evening “Scunner” – a Scottish term meaning disgust or loathing, or to dislike something.
To get our Burns Night underway Ray now asked Gavin Meikle to address the haggis. Gavin dressed in full Scottish regalia then proceeded to recite Burn’s Address to a Haggis while cutting the haggis.
It fell to Charlotte O’Driscoll to start the meeting proper with a warm-up. Noting how Burn’s was still remembered over 200 years after his death she asked those present how they wished to be remembered. Thoughts of being the first person on Mars, a famous novelist, or chef were suggested, one wanted to invent an automatic iron while others wished to be remembered for doing good and helping people.
The Toastmaster now asked our three speakers to come forward. Ann Carver spoke first with a speech entitled “No haggis for the Scots”. Ann ‘McSwede’ spoke to a room of journalists over the disaster which had befallen her company where they had inadvertently sent all their haggis’s abroad leaving none for the Scots.
Premraj Premprakash followed with his Icebreaker, telling of his early life in Madras before seeking employment in Britain.
Lastly Sarah Waters gave her Project 2 speech entitled “Asking a valuable question” explaining how if you wanted an answer you needed to know how to frame your question.
It was now time for the break and a chance for all to sample the haggis as well as chat over the evening’s proceedings.
Ellie called everyone back to their seats for Ray to next call on the evaluators to give their thoughts on the speeches. Ian Millen, Brent Crouch and Keith Oliver did the honours respectively.
Marie Newman had cried off late so Keith Oliver stepped back up to lead the Table Topics. Keith, sporting a “bonny bonnet” befitting the occasion, asked the participants to give their twist on Scottish myths. Simon Roberts explained how he had met the Loch Ness Monster. Karen Chapman recounted the sighting of a Kelpie. Matt (guest) told the tale of Robert the Bruce and the spider, and Gavin Meikle told the bloodcurdling tale of Sawny Bean before Sophy Smith explained about Skelpies.
Sophy was straight back in action with her Grammarian’s report, noting that scunner had been used several times during the meeting. She highlighted some of the filler words sued but then praised the good examples of language particularly alliteration.
Ray now asked Wendy Benson to evaluate the Table Topic speakers which she did by highlighting the things they had done well but also giving tips for improvement.
It finally fell to Karen Chapman to give her report as General Evaluator and she considered that the evening had been a success.
Following club business by Wendy, Ray gave out the awards and sought comments from the guests before closing the meeting.
Best Speaker – Sarah Waters
Best Evaluator – Ian Millen
Best Table Topics – Simon Roberts