Honorary members 1963 to 1971

1963 Christopher Murray Grieve ('Hugh MacDiarmid'), W D Cocker
1964 Sir Alexander Gibson, William Ross
1965 Sir Alex Douglas-Home, Rev James L Dow, Harold Wilson
1966 Duncan Macrae, Maurice Lindsay
1967 Thomas W Dalgleish, F C Sillar, Clement Wilson, Edward Odling, Yehudi Menuhin
1968 Sir Francis Chichester, Sir Thomas Moore
1969 Prof. William Barclay, James Kinsley
1970 Lord Reith of Stonehaven
1971 Lord Macleod of Fuinary, James MacPhail, Rt Hon William Ross

 

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W D Cocker (1882-1970) Honorary member 1963

His life & work:

W D Cocker gained some reputation after the war as a journalist and writer of humorous verses in Scots, but the poems written out of his experiences with the Highland Light Infantry and the Royal Scots and as a prisoner of war (from 1917), written in English, are worth inclusion in any anthology of war poetry.

While we do not yet have any biographical details about him, we can indicate his work by mentioning some of his books, and quoting a few lines of his poetry. Poetry included "Dandie and Other Poems" (1925), "Poems Scots and English" (1932), "New Poems" (1949). Other books included the 64-page "Loch Lomond, The Trossachs and Loch Katrine". His plays included the four-act "Folk Frae Condie" (1949) and several one-act plays such as "Gretna Green". He contributed to the 'Daily Record'.

His poem "The Deluge" is an account in Scots of Noah and the Flood - here are two verses (of 20):

"Then doon cam a lashin o rain,
Like the wattest wat day in Lochaber;
The hailstanes like plunkers cam stot,
An the fields turned tae glaur, and syne glabber.

An the burns aa cam doon in a spate,
An the rivers ran clean ower the haughs,
An the brigs were aa soopit awa,
An whit hid been dubs becam lochs."

and a verse from 'The Ploughman's Lament':

I'm fee'd tae a fermer in Fife,
A Renfrewshire lad kens the differ;
It's oh, for a sicht o' the Gryffe,
Or a blink o' the Braes o' Gleniffer!

His letter, written from his home at 23 Belmont Street, Glasgow, on 30th November 1962:

Notes:

Dear Sir,
     I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter informing me of the great honour done me by the Members of Irvine Burns Club in electing me an Honorary Member of your old and distinguished Society.
    When I read the names of the august ones who have already been admitted to that fellowship I feel proud indeed.
    I am interested to know of the Original Manuscripts & other relics of the poet which you possess. These are great treasures.
    I am over eighty years of age now, & as one's life draws near the gloaming it is good to receive recognition & to be deemed worthy to follow in the footsteps of Burns.
     Thanking you & all your members for this honour.
     Yours very sincerely
     W D Cocker

The letter replied to that of William Phillips, Hon. Secretary at the time.

C M Grieve ("Hugh MacDiarmid") (1892-1978)
Honorary member 1963

His life & work:

Of all the outsiders who accepted Honorary Membership of our Club I recall no other who, from the time of receiving the Honour, accepted the Irvine Burns Club as a deep interest in his life.
Hugh MacDiarmid and his second wife Valda found pleasure in just sitting in the Board Room with the Director on duty (mostly Andrew Hood) studying the Club's Historical Documents.

1963 was a time when Communists were frowned on in Scotland and MacDiarmid was drawn intellectually to the ideas behind the Communist faith. The Directors of the Club at that time had to be persuaded that MacDiarmid's Communism was idealistic and not based on the late leadership and politics of Stalin. They took some time to eventually accept MacDiarmid as an Idealist and agree to his Honorary Membership. In his home town of Langholm it took a long period of assessment before they eventually agreed to erect a memorial in his Memory. MacDiarmid's wife Valda, a sensitive poetess in her own right, sums up the problems of holding intellectual views in a wee Scots town. Her poem about this period in her husband's life has the following verses:

     On his 80th birthday
"Scars there will be in plenty,
Let's hope they'll be in their natural creases,
For your home-town is silent and moonstruck.
Reaching out you find no welcoming hand;
Hell! What need have you to care
You are meeting your 80th year,
Head held high. Haud forrit MacDiarmid;
Like Muhammed Ali - You're the Greatest!"

Hugh MacDiarmid had so much to recommend him as an honorary member of our Club. He was a founder of the Scottish National Party and in this connection he addressed huge audiences in Trafalgar Square in London. On the occasion of the Burns Bicentenary (1959) he toured Eastern Europe giving talks on Robert Burns in Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. In 1950 together with the Scottish USSR Friendship Society he visited Russia and made a contribution to the good cause of the Society - U12 International Friendship.

The library of Irvine Burns Club contains books of MacDiarmid's poetry - so many of his poems are in 'Scots' and they are difficult, in today's use of a Universal English, to fully absorb - BUT THEY ARE WORTH THE EFFORT.

In conclusion, as much of MacDiarmid's poetry requires a deep sensitivity and concentration, I offer as an example the following two verses:

     The Fool
He said that he was God
"We are well met", I cried,
"I've always hoped I should
Meet God before I died."
I slew him then and cast
His corpse into a pool
- But how I wish he had
Indeed been God, the fool!

Harry A Gaw (President 1962-1963) - contributed in 2004

His letter, written from his home at Brownsbank, Candymill, Biggar, Lanarkshire on 8th December 1962:

Notes:

Dear Sir,
     Many thanks for your letter of 26th November informing me of the intention of the Irvine Burns Club to elect me as an Honorary Member. I regard this as a very great honour, especially in view 1) of the Club's proud place as having the longest continuous record of any Burns Club in the world, and 2) the very distinguished list of those who have been honoured previously in this way. I look forward to having an opportunity to visit Irvine some time and see the important Burns manuscripts and other treasures belonging to the Club. Please thank your members on my behalf, and accept my high regards and best wishes,
     Yours for Scotland,
     Christopher Murray Grieve
     ("Hugh MacDiarmid")

The letter replied to that of William Phillips, Hon. Secretary at the time.

Sir Alexander Gibson (1926-1995) Honorary member 1964

His life & work:

<biography to follow> Musical Director, SNO

His letter, written from The Scottish National Orchestra Society Ltd, 150 Hope Street, Glasgow C.2, on 2nd January 1964

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     I am most honoured to accept nomination as an Honorary Member of Irvine Burns Club and would be most grateful if you would convey my humble gratitude to the officers of your distinguished club for thinking of me in this connection.
     As a Scot and as a lover of Burns I am very conscious of the distinction you propose to bestow upon me.
     It is a matter of regret that my duties never take me to Irvine, but I hope to have an early opportunity of being shown your treasured collection of Burnsiana.
     I am,
     Yours sincerely,
     Alexander Gibson

The acceptance, in his own hand, is written to Bill Phillips, Club Secretary, on headed notepaper.

William Ross (....) Honorary member 1964

His life & work:

<biography to follow> 'Irvine Herald' editor

His letter, written from the Herald Office, Irvine, on 17th January 1964

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     It is with great pleasure I accept nomination as an Honorary Member of Irvine Burns Club - the greatest Burns Club in existence. Never did I aspire to such eminence nor that my name should be associated with such an illustrious list of notabilities.
     May I be permitted to say two things. My firm has been associated continuously with your club since its inception in 1826. First there was Maxwell Dick, a founder and president, then my immediate predecessor, the late Provost Charles Murchland, a former president and a man who wrote a number of books about Burns. My son & I are carrying on the tradition.
     The second thing I would like to say is that I have not missed a Burns Anniversary for more than fifty years and I have enjoyed every one of them.
     Thanking the members once again for the honour done to me I would like to say that anything I can do to further the interests of your club will be done with the greatest pleasure.
     I am, Sir,
     Your obedient servant,
     William Ross

The addressee is Club Secretary Bill Phillips.

The 'Irvine Herald' regularly carried verbatim reports of the Annual Celebration speeches, often noted in shorthand by Mr Ross.

Sir Alex Douglas-Home (1903-1995) Honorary member 1965

His life & work:

<biography to follow>

His letter, written from The Hirsel, Coldstream, Berwickshire, on Jan 14 [1965]:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     Thank you so much for your letter telling me that the Irvine Burns Club is to elect me an Honorary Member.
     I am very honoured to be named among the distinguished company of my predecessors. Will you please express to the Club my real gratitude & appreciation.
     Yours sincerely
     Alec Douglas-Home

The acceptance, in his own hand, is written to Club Secretary Bill Phillips.

Harold Wilson (1916-1995) Honorary member 1965

His life & work:

<biography to follow>

His letter, written from 10 Downing Street, Whitehall on January 11, 1965:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillip [sic],
     Thank you for your letter of December 30 and for your kindness in inviting me to become an Honorary Member of the Irvine Burns Club.
     It is very good of you to suggest this, and I am honoured to accept.
     Yours sincerely,
     Harold Wilson

The letter, on 10 Downing St notepaper, is typed, with the exception of the Dear Mr Phillips, the Yours sincerely, and the signature.

Duncan Macrae (1905-1967) Honorary member 1966

His life & work:

<biography to follow>

His letter, written from the Queensberry Court Hotel, London SW7, on 12th Jan. '66:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     In acknowledging your letter of the 9th, informing me that I have been elected an Honorary Member of the Irvine Burns Club, I am indeed conscious of the special honour you are conferring on me.
     While I make no claim to justify your adding my name to a list of such high distinction, it pleases me to note that you have been able to mark the contributions made by a number of Burns's fellow-countrymen, most of them involved in the Arts.
     In a nation given over, perhaps, too much to the disputation upon ends, I am most pleased to see a succession of names of persons concerned, as we all are in the Arts, with the means of life itself.
     In humble gratitude,
     I am
     Duncan Macrae.

The addressee is Club Secretary Bill Phillips.

Maurice Lindsay (1918-2009) Honorary member 1966

His life & work:

Maurice Lindsay, after serving in World War II, became a radio broadcaster, and became well known as a poet and as a music critic. His career led to appointment as Programme Controller at Border Television.

He has published very many of his poems and a large number of other books, mainly drawing on his love of poetry and his deep knowledge of Scottish literature and of music. His Collected Poems of 1974 drew on 12 published collections. In 1968, he produced "Robert Burns: the man, his work, the legend". In 1989 he edited Alexander Scott's "The Comic Poems of William Tennant" (Tennant accepted honorary membership of Irvine Burns Club in 1829, and our article about his life and works is available on this site). In 2001, Lindsay published the "Theatre and Opera Lovers Quotation Book". His work on "Castles in Scotland" is also popular.

For students of Burns, the publication of Maurice Lindsay which is probably the most consulted and the one which probably led to his being invited to accept honorary membership is "The Burns Encyclopedia", first published in time for the bicentenary celebrations of 1959. As he wrote in the Introduction to the 3rd edition of 1980, "The purpose of this book remains the furtherance of the enjoyment of Burns' poems and letters by readers who share my own pleasure and delight in them." One critic wrote: "Fascinating. An immediate treasure-house of information on every person or place involved in Burns' works."

In 1961, Maurice Lindsay wrote these comments about the use of Lallans in his Preface to 'Snow Warning', one of the books he presented to Irvine Burns Club.

The poems in this collection are . . all . . in English. . . . In view of my close association throughout the 'Forties and early 'Fifties with the group of writers known as the Lallans Makars, I think I ought to explain why I have recanted.

Lallans was a brave last-ditch effort to restore to Lowland Scotland its ancient language. It failed to arouse any measure of popular support. During the 'Fifties, the Scots tongue receded more rapidly than ever before under the impact of television, and has now been reduced to a mere matter of local accent. It is utterly unthinkable that this poor wasted and abandoned speech, however rich in theory its poetic potential, can possibly express what there is to be expressed of the Scottish ethos in the age of the beatnik and the hydrogen bomb. The fact is that Lallans has not been used with contemporary significance by any writer during the greater part of the last decade.

We are all Anglo-Scots now, whether we like it or not. The future of Scottish literature must therefore lie with English, albeit English tempered by something of the old Scots roughness of texture. In any case, the only thing that matters is what is being said in relation to the human dilemma.

 

His letter, written at Woodlands Cottage, Heads Nook, by Carlisle, Cumberland on 12th January 1966:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     Thank you for your letter of 9th January, in which you announce my election as an Honorary Member of Irvine Burns Club. I am deeply touched by the Club's gesture to me, and I shall make a point of accepting your invitation to inspect the Club's possessions when next I am in Irvine.
     As a token of thanks, I should like to add in a small way to these possessions. I am therefore arranging to have sent to you for the Club's library, autographed copies of my two last books of poems, "Snow Warning" and "One Later Day".
     With every good wish for the continuing ancient prosperity of the Irvine Burns Club,
     Yours sincerely,
     Maurice Lindsay

The books mentioned are "Snow Warning and other poems" (Linden Press, Arundel, 1962) and "One Later Day and other poems" (Brookside Press, 1964); the signed books are catalogued respectively as LPL4 and LPL5 in our library.

Rev. James L Dow (1908-1977) Honorary member 1966

His life & work:

James Leslie Dow was a Church of Scotland minister, a broadcaster and an author. He became minister of Cartsburn Augustine church in Greenock in 1943. In 1965 he became minister at Lochranza on the Isle of Arran, a post he held until his death in 1977.

As a broadcaster, he contributed to the BBC's Songs of Praise and to STV's Late Call. As an author, he published a Dictionary of the Bible in 1964 which has remained in print to the time of writing. He also versified, as seen in his letter of acceptance.

His letter, written from Cartsburn Augustine Church of Scotland, Greenock, on 12 January 1966:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
    You will observe that with characteristic Scottish Carefulness I am using my Greenock notepaper, but since any slight prominence I have gained was achieved while I was minister there, it is possibly fitting that I should use Greenock paper to thank your club for the very signal honour which they have done me, and to accept most humbly and most gratefully.
     You select for this honour distinguished poets, men of special national eminence, or those who have been special benefactors of the Club. I cannot see in which category I qualify.
     I am a versifier of sorts but would not dare to call myself a poet. Of national eminence I have none, though I neglect no chance to speak the good word for Scotland. What I have done for Irvine Burns Club I know not, though I did have a year in Irvine almost quarter of a century ago & may have helped some of your members home.
    However you are the judges of qualifications, not I: and if I satisfy what I am sure will be your strict standards I am all the more happy and proud.
     Will you convey to your officers, your Committee, your members, & accept on your own behalf, my genuine thanks for this rare distinction & my assurance that nothing will give me greater pleasure than to render to you any service within my power.
     With warm regards
     Yours sincerely
     James L Dow

I enclose some verses
     JLD

The addressee is Wm Phillips, Hon. Secy.

The letter is (handwritten) on his church notepaper.

His sheet of verses is filed with his letter.

Thomas W Dalgleish (1902-1970) Honorary member 1967

His life & work:

Tom Dalgleish, the son of a shepherd in Peeblesshire, became head forester at Coldstream, then on the Kilmarnock Estates, before (in 1946) setting up as a free-lance forestry consultant, building up a business which did work all over Britain. His interest in Burns began when he was, as a young man, a member of a church choir.

During ten years as Secretary (1960-69) and Treasurer (1961-69) of the Burns Federation, he gave new life to the international aspect of the Federation, bringing to the office his expertise and capacity for management. Highlights of his work were his speeches in America in 1965 and his world tour, including Australia, of Burns Clubs in 1966. The invitation by Irvine Burns Club was prompted by President Sam Gaw, who has since also played a large part in Federation affairs, and it can be seen in the light of Tom Dalgleish's worldwide efforts of 1965-66. He led the fund-raising for the restoration of the Burns House Museum in Mauchline, opened in 1969.

In forestry, Tom Dalgleish was a life member of the Scottish Forestry Society, serving as its first working forester president in 1947.

In May 1970, by then an OBE, he was honoured by a function to celebrate not only his work for the Federation but also his many kindnesses, hospitality and friendship. The presentation was made by Mrs Jane Burgoyne, senior Vice-President of the Federation.

His letter, written from 'Drymlia', 11a Climie Place, Kilmarnock in January 1967:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     Very many thanks for your letter of 10th January 1967 intimating that the Irvine Burns Club have unanimously elected me as an Honorary Member
     Please convey to your President and Members my most grateful thanks for this very high honour which I shall cherish so long as I live.
     This adds to my list one of the oldest Clubs with continued functions since its inception. I have been greatly honoured by Burns Clubs in many parts of the world including Canada, U.S.A., New Zealand and Australia and of course being a past president of Kilmarnock No. 0.
     During my fifty years with close associations with Burnsiana I have reaped rich rewards but none greater than to be made an honorary member of your Burns Club.
     Yours sincerely
     Thos. W Dalgleish

The letter is addressed to Wm Phillips, Esq., MA, FEIS, Hon. Secretary.

F C Sillar (.....-.....) Honorary member 1967

His life & work:

< biography to be added >

His letter, written from his home at Kirkmulloch, Dalry, Castle-Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire, on 12th January 1967:

Notes:

Dear Hon. Secretary,
     I cannot tell you how delighted and honoured I am to be elected an Honorary Member of Irvine Burns Club - especially as I really cannot claim distinction under any of the categories you name in your letter notifiying me of the honour. But it is delightful all the same, particularly being a great-great-grandson of the famous Davie.
     Curiously enough, when doing some research in the National Library in Edinburgh last week for my next book, the catalogue volume in which I was looking up something fell open and my eye instantly caught sight of the name David Sillar. It was in reference to Davie's book of poems - and next it was the name of my grandfather William Cameron Sillar, Davie's grandson, who wrote a book on Usury. In a later volume of the Catalogue my father's name - also William Cameron Sillar - appears as the author of a technical book on his own subjecrt, Materia Medica - and on the cards not yet included in the printed catalogue, my mother's name, Eleanor Fanny Sillar appears as the author of 'Edinburgh's Child'. My own follows, with my books 'The Symbolic Pig' and 'Cats Ancient and Modern'. So Davie, his grandson, his great-grandson and his great-great-grandson have all been authors of a kind, but I cannot find whether Davie's son Zachariah wrote anything. Perhaps the Club knows.
     Please report to the Club my great satisfaction at the honour they have done me.
     Yours sincerely,
     F C Sillar

 

Clement Wilson (1903-1975) Honorary member 1967

His life & work:

The Wilson family were Hugeunots who settled as farmers at Loch Goin (formerly Goine, then Goyne) near Fenwick. Before moving into food mass production, on watching the exploits of Armand and Michaela Dennis on TV (1957-65), Clement Wilson noted that their animal specimens, on killing, ate the offal first - a substance held in surplus by the company. This prompted him to hire consultants to utilise this offal. His subsequent usage through his factory then realised the sum of 7 million pounds for the right to produce their Kennomeat and Kattomeat brands - some offal!

Robert Clement Wilson, President of Irvine Burns Club in 1970-71, claimed his family were Covenantors. Loch Goin was famous for this and he proved a connection by showing swords.

An ancestor, Ayrshire farmer James Wilson, rearing pigs and producing ham in c.1820, introduced the Ayrshire Cure. He was the first to introduce the present Ayrshire method in the factory at the Burns in Dunlop. Pig raising in that area was probably fairly extensive, as in the first half of the 20th century there were about thirteen ham curers operating in the village, one of whom was Robert Wilson, founder of Robert Wilson & Sons (1859) Limited.

Robert Wilson's ham factory continued until the 1930s. At the start of the 2nd World War, the factory changed from ham production to H.M. factory for the process and store of gun cotton. A disastrous fire saw this burned out at the war's end and in the early 1950s Robert Wilson gifted a rest garden on the site of the original factory at Dunlop, in Lugton Road, to remember those predecessors who had left the family fortune.

Robert's son Clement converted the Eglinton Castle stable block into a factory in 1953, choosing Eglinton as a headquarters for "Wilson's of Scotland" because he believed that work should always be done in a satisfying environment. The manufacture of processed and canned foods then expanded greatly, using the name 'Newforge', the company becoming nationally recognised, Kennomeat and Kattomeat gaining 20% of the market. It was sold to rival manufacturers, Spillers, in 1964.

Because he also believed that industry should play a significant role in improving that environment, 'this man of vision' (as he was described by John Strawhorn in 'The History of Irvine') not only lavishly enhanced Eglinton Park but created in 1965 a Clement Wilson Foundation to support a variety of worthy causes locally and beyond. When he died in 1975, his son James W Wilson continued to employ 350 at Eglinton in line with his father's philosophy. The factory was closed in 1997.

Some of the above recollections were recounted by Clement Wilson at the Directors' table during his year as President (1970-71), and we are indebted to Sam Gaw (Past President 1966-67) for passing them on for inclusion in this brief biography.

The Wilson family gifted the grounds of Eglinton Park to the local authority, then Cunninghame District Council, in 1978. In the early 1980s, the Clement Wilson Foundation was a major contributor to the restoration of the Heckling Shop in Irvine's Glasgow Vennel - the building where Burns had worked in 1781. The Foundation's successor, the Barcapel Foundation, continues to sponsor projects in Irvine and elsewhere, supporting projects for health, for heritage, and for youth. A recent grant is a substantial contribution to the creation of the Burns National Heritage Park in 2009.

In South Belfast in 1929, the family firm Wilson Management Ltd bought a former clog factory and 25 acres of land to produce soft fruit for canning. Staff, unable to travel back into the city for lunch, enjoyed lunch break walks around the surrounding fields. Clement Wilson noticed this and decided to landscape the grounds into gardens, creating the first 'factory garden' in Northern Ireland. The factory closed during World War II, the council bought the land for a public park in the 1970s, and Clement Wilson Park was officially opened in 1975. Some of its grassland, beside Newforge Lane, was occupied by orchards in pre-war years.

His letter, written from Skelmorlie Castle, Ayrshire, on 17th Jan. 1967:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     Please convey to the President and all members of the Irvine Burns Club my sincere thanks and appreciation of the great honour they have conferred upon me by electing me an Honorary Member.
     Knowing something of the history of the Club and its long list of distinguished Honorary Members I, as an Ayrshire man, feel particularly grateful to the members for electing me to an Office, which has been filled for so long by so many men of National and International eminence.
     Robert Burns, his qualities, philosophy and genius, have been an inspiration to me since my early youth.
     He had the unique gift of explaining human feelings, human failings and human motivations with the minimum of words in Poems, Songs, and Letters.
     For the foregoing reasons and for many others which I find it difficult to put into words, I accept with gratitude Honorary Membership of The Irvine Burns Club.
     Yours sincerely
     R Clement Wilson

Mr Phillips was Hon. Secretary of Irvine Burns Club at that time.

Edward Odling (1921-2007) Honorary member 1967

His life & work:

Ted and Elizabeth Odling met at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) in 1949 and married in 1952. They lived and worked on the west of Scotland throughout their long careers as artists, both at GSA and as free-lance artists on commissions for, amongst others, the BBC and The National Trust for Scotland.

Ted was a landscape painter, and produced an impressive collection of painting in watercolour, oil and pastel of the west coast of Scotland. He was also keenly interested in science and technology and generated many new ideas by combining his artistic background with advances in optics, photography, film, and music. Elizabeth won the Newbery Medal as top student of her year at the Glasgow School of Art in 1945. Her work is marked by a close attention to detail, particularly seen in her wood and copper engravings, drawings of natural objects and life drawing, watercolours of flowers, embroidery and quilts.

Throughout their careers, Ted and Elizabeth often worked as a team producing murals for the Burns Club in Irvine, the Burns Museum at Alloway and Chatelherault, near Glasgow. In 1965, they created a large mural covering the walls (and some of the ceiling) of a room in the Burns Club and Museum in Irvine illustrating the life of Robert Burns. This includes scenes from Burns' life and his tales and poems which were arranged to disguise the room's corners and included a false door and shelf. These were so life-like that one visiting dignitary at the opening was caught trying to put his glass down on the false shelf. Ted was appointed Honorary member of the Irvine Burns Club in 1967 and the Burns Club murals exist to this day.

As a result of the success of these murals, Ted and Elizabeth also took part in the refurbishment of the Burns Museum at Burns cottage in Alloway in 1985-86, a project coordinated by John Mott, where they worked with Jack Kilgour in constructing two murals, one on Burns' work which featured Tam o' Shanter and was set in the Ayrshire landscape, and the other illustrating his way of life and selected events such as the publishing of the Kilmarnock edition of 'Poems Chiefly in the Scottish dialect'.

Ted and Elizabeth retired to Lismore in Argyll in 1981 where they spent 25 years, and for many of these years continued to work as free-lance artists. She passed away in 2004, he in 2007. Irvine Burns Club is indebted to their daughter Noelle for this appreciation of the artists.

His letter, written from 19 Craigendoran Avenue, Helensburgh, Dunbarts., on January 22nd 1967:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     It is with the greatest pleasure that I accept the honorary membership of the Irvine Burns Club.
     The enthusiasm, energy and vigour with which the club pursues its studies of the poet and his works, express that vitality and warmth to be found so conspicuously in the man and his writings. I am mindful of the importance of your most kind gesture toward me in asking me to be associated with your endeavours in this way.
     For this honour, please convey to the club my warmest thanks.
     I am, most sincerely yours
     Edward Odling

Mr Phillips was Hon. Secretary of Irvine Burns Club at that time.

Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999) Honorary member 1967

His life & work:

< biography to be added >

His letter, written from the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten (Restaurant Walterspiel), Maximilianstrasse, Munich, on 15th January 1967:

Notes:

Dear Sir,
     I am most honoured to learn from your kind letter that I have been by now, in accordance with your most optimistic and flattering prognostication, that I am by now a unanimously elected Honorary Member of the Irvine Burns Club.
     I do sincerely trust the voting members were not unduly brainwashed and that there was a modicum of spontaneity in the proceedings of Jan 10th last!
     Hoping I may some day visit the Club at Irvine, with all my thanks and good wishes,
     Yours faithfully,
     Yehudi Menuhin

 

Sir Francis Chichester (1901-72) Honorary member 1968

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from Francis Chichester Ltd, 9 St James Place, London, S.W.1, on 10th January, 1968:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     Thank you for your letter of the 18th December and I must apologise for the long delay in replying.
     I greatly appreciate the honour you have done me by making me an Honorary Member of the Irvine Burns Club. I hope you will not mind my adding that I have many commitments and will unfortunately not be able to play any active part in the activities of the Club.
     With kind regards,
     Yours sincerely,
     Francis Chichester

Mr Phillips was Hon. Secretary of Irvine Burns Club at that time.

Sir Thomas Moore (....) Honorary member 1968

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

Lieut.-Col. Sir Thomas Moore, Bart., C.B.E. (the heading on his notepaper) was elected M.P. for Ayr Burghs, which included the Burgh of Irvine, in 1925. When constituency reorganisation took place in 1950, he was elected M.P. for Ayr. This he held until 1964. He was President of Irvine Burns Club in 1945.

His letter, written from 87 Harley House, London, N.W.1, on 22nd January, 1968:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     I hear from both my secretary and my wife that you have been worried about not having had a reply to your letter inviting me to become an honorary member of the Irvine Burns Club. Well, the reason is that your letter never arrived and, therefore, I could not answer it. But, of course, as my secretary told your wife on the telephone I will be very happy indeed to be an honorary member of your Club and will look forward to maintaining my association and interest in all your activities.
     Yours sincerely
     Thomas Moore

Mr Phillips was Hon. Secretary of Irvine Burns Club at that time.

Prof. W Barclay (1907-1978) Honorary member 1969

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from the Department of Divinity and Biblical Criticism, The University, Glasgow, W2, and is undated.

Notes:

Dear Mr Hood,
     Thank you very much indeed for your very kind invitation to become an honorary member of Irvine Burns Club. This is a very great honour, and I appreciate it very much indeed, although I feel that my name is not worthy to stand beside the great names you mention. I shall be very privileged to accept the honorary membership which you so kindly offer, and I hope that on occasion I may have some small part in the activities of the Club.
     Please convey to your committee my very sincere thanks for the honour they do me, and my most grateful acceptance of it.
     With every good wish
     Yours sincerely
     William Barclay

Prof. Barclay's letter is handwritten, to Hon. Secy. Andrew Hood, on notepaper of his Department.

James Kinsley (19..-1984) Honorary member 1969

His life & work:

Professor Kinsley was Head of English from 1961 to 1984 at Nottingham University, where he established a chair of English language and, in his history of the School written in 1980, outlined that his intention was to “assert the unity of the linguistic-literary English discipline, medieval and modern, in a single school”.

He was passionate about extending library provision, particularly in the Arts, and was instrumental in the plans for the University’s Hallward Library opened in 1973. Student admissions rose and Joint Honours courses were introduced with American Studies (resulting in the formation of a new department), History, Theology, Art History, Linguistics and Archaeology. The teaching of drama was developed and the Department established links with the Nottingham Playhouse in the late 1960s. By the 1970s the performing arts theatre was being established and drama developed as a subject and eventual section in the School.

Professor Kinsley died suddenly in 1984 and his work and contribution to not only the Department but also the University was recorded by the British Academy in 1988.

James Kinsley published a three-volume edition "The Poems and Songs of Robert Burns" in 1968, prompting his honorary membership at Irvine. He also published "Burns and the Peasantry 1785" in the Proceedings of the British Academy 60 (1974). The Burns edition was described by Robert Crawford as "the standard reference text of the poet's work". Kinsley wrote that Burns saw "the rustic society about him with the sympathy and critical clarity of a Brueghel".

His letter, written from the School of English Studies, The University, Nottingham, on 16 Jany 1969:

Notes:

Dear Mr Hood,
     Your letter of 10 January does me a great and quite unexpected honour, which I accept with gratitude - and may I in turn acknowledge the generosity with which Irvine Burns Club made its fine collection of MSS available to me years ago. - I hope indeed that I have given some service to Scottish letters in my edition of Burns: but in the end it was not only a large labour finished, but a long debt paid.
     I hope to visit Irvine again before long, as I get ahead with my editions of John Galt.
     Sincerely yours,
     James Kinsley

The letter is to Hon Secy Andrew Hood.

He published an edition of Galt's 1821 "Annals of the Parish" in 1967.

Lord Reith of Stonehaven (1889-1971) Honorary member 1970

His life & work:

John Charles Walsham Reith was a Scottish broadcasting executive who established the tradition of independent public service broadcasting in the United Kingdom. In 1922 he was employed by the BBC (British Broadcasting Company Ltd.) as its general manager; in 1923 he became its managing director and in 1927 he was employed as the Director-General of the British Broadcasting Corporation created under a Royal Charter. His concept of broadcasting as a way of educating the masses marked for a long time the BBC and similar organisations around the world.

Reith, commented journalist Charlotte Higgins (reporting on the future of the BBC in 'The Guardian', 20/8/2014) and his early colleagues "were out to invent the future", and she describes him as "that monstrous, tyrannical, tortured man, [who] set his gaze at the new technological world of wireless telegraphy and saw that it could be, should be, placed in the service of society as a whole. . . What Reith saw was that he had in his hands an instrument that could inform, educate and entertain - not just the privileged but everyone. . .

" [He] saw that broadcasting could one day have a number of extraordinary qualities. First, that the licence fee . . was .. a passport to equality . . there would be no first, second or third class. .. Second, everyone would be able to access the BBc in private. Your tastes, your culture, your enthusiasms, your politics - all of these could be developed without the eye of anyone upon you. . . Third, Reith was convinced that broadcasting, with this peculiar capability of reaching everyone, should also provide for everyone."

Reith had no broadcasting experience when he applied for the yet-unformed BBC in 1922. In 1936, he directly oversaw the abdication broadcast of Edward VIII. He left the BBC in 1938.

While one might think Reith would have been offered honorary membership in 1938, or at some time soon after WWII, in fact it was 32 years later, a point noted, in his usual style, in his reply.

Though, as the founder of the BBC, he still stands for integrity and rectitude, as a parent, Lord Reith was a tyrant, and in 2006 his daughter Marista Leishman revealed the family secrets - including his utter disdain for TV - in a book about her remote, unappeasable, and philandering father.

His letter, written from Lollards Tower, London SE1, on January 12, 1970:

Notes:

Dear Sir,
     In reply to your letter of January 6, I am not 'Lord John Reith', but the Rt Hon Lord Reith of Stonehaven KT, PC, and some other things which Who's Who lists.
     Moreover I left the BBC over 30 years ago.
     Please note KT is not kt. It means Knight of the Thistle, next to the Garter in seniority.
     It seems a little odd that this courtesy should have been withheld until very nearly I wasn't here to acknowledge it.
     But of course I appreciate your gift and gladly accept it.
     Yours truly
     Reith of Stonehaven.

 

James MacPhail (....-....) Honorary member 1971

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from 'Casita', 118 Bank Street, Irvine, on 28th April, 1971:

Notes:

Dear Andrew
     I have very much pleasure in replying to your letter of the 14th Feby., and would ask you to convey to your President, Mr Clement Wilson, my warmest thanks for the honour he bestowed on me, and my appreciation of the delightful evening spent in his company, and that of his fellow Directors, at Wellwood in the charming ceremony to mark my Honorary Membership.
     I need not tell you that this was for me a cherished privilege and I would also thank you for your good wishes and for courteous and kindly assistance both in correspondence and in person.
     Yours sincerely
     James MacPhail

The addressee is Andrew Hood, Hon. Secy.

William Ross (1911-1988) Honorary member 1971

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from the House of Commons, London, W1, on 7th Jan 1971:

Notes:

Dear Mr Hood,
     Thank you for your letter of 29th and the offer therein of Honorary Membership of Irvine's historic Burns Club.
     I have long known and admired the activities of Irvine Burns Club. As an Ayrshireman it gives me great pleasure to accept your generous offer.
     With best wishes for the continued flourishing of a historic Burns Club.
     Sincerely,
     William Ross

The letter is to Hon. Secy Andrew Hood.

Lord MacLeod of Fuinary (1895-1991) Honorary member 1971

His life & work:

< biography to be added >

His letter, written from 23 Learmonth Terrace, Edinburgh EH4 1PG, on 31.12.70:

Notes:

FROM VERY REV. THE LORD MACLEOD OF FUINARY
Dear Mr Hood,
     I have today your communication of 30 December.
     It was a real surprise to read it and I count it a considerable honour to accept my place among so many illustrious names in your Roll of Honorary Members.
     I have read with great interest the excellent Brochure with its splendid illustrations. I shall certainly not visit Irvine without calling in on the Burns Club & Museum.
     Were it not that I am off in ten days for a ten week visit, as the Guest of the Church in New Zealand, I would have made a Special Visit this month.
     Speaking of industrial conditions, in the late 18th & early 19th centuries, you may be interested in the enclosed authentic "Notice" found in the back of an office cupboard in a Lancashire Factory!
     Things do get better after all!
     Thank you all again,
     Sincerely
     MacLeod of Fuinary

His headed paper bears the heading opposite, his address, and phone number.

Mr Hood was Andrew Hood, the Hon. Secy. of Irvine Burns Club at the time.

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