Honorary members 1972 to 1977

1972 Rev. Alex Macara, Edward Heath, Lord Dalkeith, Herr Willy Brandt
1 974 Winifred Ewing, Wendy Wood
1975 David Murison, Alex. MacMillan
1976 Nigel Tranter, Prof. Ian A Gordon, G Ross Roy, Dr Robert B Taylor
1977 Sir John Betjeman, Jane Burgoyne, James Callaghan,
Maurice Roeves, Professor Toshio Namba, Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, Henry A Kissinger

 

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Rev. Alec Macara (1900-1992) Honorary member 1972

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from The Manse, The Old Parish Church of Irvine, on Monday, January the third, 1972:

Notes:

Dear Mr Hood,
     It is difficult for me to express in writing the pleasure I feel in receiving your letter of the 31st ulto., informing me of the great honour the Burns Club of Irvine, through its President, has conferred upon me.
     As a Past President and ex-Director, I fully realize how jealously guarded this privilege has been through many generations; and in all humility I feel proud to give the consent you wish, that my name be added to your illustrious list of honorary members.
     It is a joy to know of the ever-increasing enthusiasm for our national Bard, and to realize that the Burns Club of Irvine is so successfully stimulating that interest, and promoting serious study of his works.
     Yours Sincerely
     Alec Macara.
     Minister of Irvine

The letter, to Hon. Secy Andrew Hood, is on the notepaper of The Old Parish Church of Irvine, The Manse.

Edward Heath (1916-2005) Honorary member 1972

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from 10 Downing Street, Whitehall, on 15 January, '72:

Notes:

Dear Mr Hood,
     I would be glad if you would express to the Irvine Burns Club my appreciation of its kind offer of Honorary Membership. I am glad to accept its invitation to become an Honorary Member and I feel proud to join the ranks of a Club with such a long history and so many distinguished members. With best wishes.
     Yours sincerely
     Edward Heath

On headed notepaper, the letter is wholly in his own hand.

Lord Dalkeith (1923-2007) Honorary member 1972

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from Eildon Hall, Melrose, Scotland, on 4th January 1972

Notes:

Dear Mr Hood,
     One hopes that Burns would not be as shocked by your choice of Honorary Members as I am delighted. He was always broadminded and I hope he would smile on my pleasurable acceptance of so kind an invitation.
     Yours sincerely
     Dalkeith

The addressee is Hon. Secy. Andrew Hood.

Willy Brandt (1913-1992) Honorary member 1972

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from the office of Der BundesKanzler (the Federal Chancellor), Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn, on den 14 März 1972:

Translation:

Sehr geehrter Herr Hood,
Ihr liebenswürdigen Angebot der Ehrenmitgliedschaft in Irvine Burns Club empfinde ich eine besondere Ehre. Ich nehme es dankend und mit Freude an.
     Mit freundlichen Grüssen
     Ihr Willy Brandt

Dear Mr Hood,
I am greatly honoured by the kind invitation of the honourable members of the Irvine Burns Club. I thank you for it and am delighted to accept.
     Yours sincerely
     Willy Brandt

Andrew Hood was Hon. Secretary of Irvine Burns Club at that time.

On the photo enclosed with his acceptance is the salutation, “Dem Irvine Burns Club mit freundlichen Grussen“
(“With friendly greetings to the Irvine Burns Club“).

Winifred Ewing (1929-) Honorary member 1974

Her life & work:

< biography to follow >

Her letter, written from 52 Queen's Drive, Glasgow, on 8/1/74:

Notes:

Dear Mr Hood,
     It is with great pride I accept the honour of Irvine Burns Club honorary membership. My Father was a life long student of Robert Burns and brought me up on the simple philosophy based on Burns writings

"Never think any one is better than you, and never think that you are better than any man who lives."

     Burns season is upon us again. I shall be speaking at two suppers in Elgin and Llanbryde.
     Burns of course also has a lot to do with my life long fight for Freedom. Thank you for the honour.
     Yours for Scotland
     Winifred Ewing

Andrew Hood was Hon. Secretary of Irvine Burns Club.

Her letter is on the headed paper of the Scottish National Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Moray and Nairn.

Wendy Wood (1892-1981) Honorary member 1974

Her life & work:

< biography to follow >

Her letter, written from 31 Howard Place, Edinburgh, on 9/1/74:

Notes:

Dear Andrew Hood,
     (Please excuse me thus addressing you, but the 'Mr' means nothing, lacking individuality)
     I am indeed honoured to be proposed as an Honorary Member of the Irvine Burns Club, with its fine and ancient tradition. It seems also to be un-usually original in its processes, something much more than just holding a Supper once a year!
    The Club's stated reason for offering me this great honour is very precious to me, and it is difficult to find words to express my humble appreciation.
    I hope, later in the year, to make a special journey to Irvine in order to visit the Club and so be able to verbally express my gratitude.
     Yours sincerely,
     Wendy Wood

They say 'it's love that makes the World go round', but it is Rabbie's lovability that has made him go round the World.

Andrew Hood was Hon. Secretary of Irvine Burns Club.

We do not have the 'stated reason' for the nomination, nor do we yet know whether she managed to visit the Club.

David Murison (1913-1997) Honorary member 1975

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from 27 George Square, Edinburgh, on 6 January 1975:

Notes:

Dear Mr Hood,
     I feel extremely honoured to have been nominated as an Honorary Member of so distinguished a Burns Club as that of Irvine, and I accept the compliment with the greatest pleasure and thanks, even if, at the same time, with no little astonished trepidation at finding myself in the company of American presidents, English poet-laureates, British generals and politicians and literary men of all kinds. While respecting them all for their outstanding qualities, I think the one I like best is your own townsman, John Galt, who has always had my admiration, and whose work, I am glad to think, is at last getting the credit it deserves.
     Incidentally I notice that my nominator is Mr Charles Masson. If he is indeed an old Aberdeen friend of mine, the pleasure of the compliment he pays me is so much the more enhanced. Please convey my warmest thanks and my kindest regards to him. I very much regret I cannot accept his most friendly invitation to be present at your Burns Supper. I have a prior engagement to attend that of Peterhead Burns Club but I shall be thinking of you all and I send you my best wishes for a happy function.
     Lastly I am especially glad to be made a member of an Ayrshire Burns Club. I lived for several years in Ayrshire, enjoyed every minute of it and learned to have a deep and lasting affection for Ayrshire folk.
     Yours very sincerely,
     David Murison

Andrew Hood was Hon. Secretary of Irvine Burns Club.

Charles Masson was Club President 1974-75.

This letter is on the headed paper of The Scottish National Dictionary, of which he was Editor.

Alex MacMillan (c.1906-1978) Honorary member 1975

His life & work:

Alex Macmillan, previously a teacher of English at Ayr Academy, came to Irvine in 1953, when he succeeded James Porter as Rector of Irvine Royal Academy. In 1956-57, he served as President of the Robert Burns World Federation. Interestingly, Irvine Burns Club did not invite him to serve as President for another decade (he filled that role in 1969-70). His nomination as an Honorary Member was not only for his contribution to Burns activities but also for his sterling efforts to preserve the Doric language of Scotland and to encourage its use in Scottish classrooms.

His obituary in the 'Burns Chronicle' of 1979 speaks primarily of the man rather than his achievements: "We recall that wonderful smile which in itself could express fun, satire, friendship and, at times, all the world of experience . . with practical sense and pawky humour, he could bring folks back to reality. Listen again to his report as Convener of the Literature Sub-committee - every word in the Doric, every word understood and the whole ranging from appeal through condemnation to realism." It continues: "The real and true Alex Macmillan chose his companions for their own worth - not the learned academicians and stars from the world of learning and the arts. Rather with his cronie, Tommy Boslem, a Lanarkshire artisan who never enjoyed the benefits of university education: but a man so devoted to Burns that he was a walking dictionary of the poet's life and work. It was the Tommy Boslems in life that the 'Auld Schilmaister' most admired; between them they made up the best of the Burns movement." It ends: "We shall treasure the privilege of having walked and talked with this gifted 'lad o' pairts'.

Alex Macmillan continued as Rector when Irvine Royal Academy moved, under its new name of Ravenspark Academy, to new premises in 1969, and retired in 1970. In retirement,he undertook the task of writing a new history of Irvine (McJannet's being of 1938), but, though he did prepare, in two typewritten volumes, a revised version of McJannet, death prevented completion. (Andrew Hood subsequently picked up the challenge, but death again intervened, in 1982; John Strawhorn completed the task in 1985.)

As a writer and poet, Alex Macmillan served as a member of the executive of the Scottish National Dictionary and, under a pseudonym, co-published a book of children's poems * - 'Bairnsangs - Nursery Rhymes in Scots by Sandy Thomas Ross' (first published 1955, re-published since) of which he was the 'Sandy' in the triumvirate. He died in May 1978, aged 72, hailed as "a leading authority on Scots literature and language".

[Notes compiled by IJD, who started his teaching career under Rector Macmillan]

* Example: The Wee Rid Motor:
In my wee rid motor, I can gang for miles, Up an doon the gairden, Through the lobby whiles. Mony a bigger motor Gangs tae toons afaur. Nane can gang whaur I gang, In my wee rid caur.

His letter, written from 13 Kilwinning Road, Irvine, in January 1975:

Notes:

Dear Andrew,
     Your letter conveying the President's wish to make me an Honorary Member of Irvine Burns Club was a great surprise and a great compliment. I am well aware of the illustrious figures in the past to whom this honour has been accorded, and I am happy to take a humble place among them.
     Whatever I have done for Irvine Burns Club to help keep the memory of the poet green, and for certain aspects of Scottish literature, I have done with all the enthusiasm of which I am capable. I am therefore the more pleased that your President has recognised what little I have been able to accomplish.
     I hope I may be spared to see the Club succeed in its new endeavours, and to have a hand in some of these.
     Yours sincerely, Alex MacMillan

Andrew Hood was Hon. Secretary of Irvine Burns Club.

This letter is on the headed paper of The Burns Federation Scottish Literature Committee, of which he was Convener.

Nigel Tranter (1909-2000) Honorary member 1976

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from Quarry House, Aberlady, East Lothian, on 3rd January, 1976:

Notes:

Dear Mr Hood,
     I greatly appreciate your letter of 30th December, informing me of the very real honour done to me, in being nominated an Honorary Member of the famed Irvine Burns Club. I am most happy to accept, naturally; and I hope you will convey to Ex-Provost Rubie my thanks for his nomination. Thank you also for the very kind things you say in your last paragraph - far too generous.
     I found the brochure highly interesting and most tastefully compiled and produced - and the page of signatures quite fascinating. To be associated, however remotely, with the names thereon, is flattering in the extreme.
     May I wish the Club, its officers, committee and members, all continuing success?
     Yours sincerely,
     Nigel Tranter

Andrew Hood was Hon. Secretary of Irvine Burns Club at that time.

Alex Rubie was Club President 1975-76.

Prof. Ian A Gordon (1908-2004) Honorary member 1976

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

Prof. Gordon lectured in the Irvine Burns Club on 28 May 1979.

His letter, written from 91 Messines Road, Wellington 5, New Zealand, on 6 January 1976:

Notes:

Dear Mr Hood,
     Your letter of 29 December inviting me to be an Honorary Member of Irvine Burns Club gave me great pleasure, & I accept this honour with thanks. My visits to Irvine, where I have been hunting for documentation on John Galt, have been both profitable & pleasurable, & I retain kind memories of your hospitality. I expect to be in the U.K. this summer & if there is a chance of my calling again - and giving a talk on John Galt - I shall not miss the opportunity. I have another Galt edition [The Last of the Lairds] in the press & expect to see it published later this year.
     Meantime, on the occasion of your 150th birthday, I send my best wishes for the next 150 years.
     Sincerely Yours,
     I. A. Gordon

Andrew Hood was Hon. Secretary of Irvine Burns Club.

Irvine Burns Club had been founded in 1826.

Prof. G. Ross Roy (1924-2013) Honorary member 1976

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from Department of English, Universirt of South Carolina, Columbia, on January 10, 1976:

Notes:

Dear Mr Hood,
     It was with the greatest pleasure that I received your letter notifying me that I had been elected an Honorary Member of the Irvine Burns Club, an honor which I gratefully accept.
     The list of your previous Honorary Members is so distinguished that I feel humble to have my name inscribed with theirs. I am proud that my Burns scholarship has been recognized by the Members of the Irvine Burns Club. Your Club ands others like it have done much to make the ever-growing fellowship of Burns-lovers indeed brothers "the world o'er" - as the Bard had hoped.
     With every good wish for the continued succcess of your Club and with warmest regards to its members,
     Yours sincerely,
     G. Ross Roy

Andrew Hood was Hon. Secretary of Irvine Burns Club.

Robert Taylor (....-....) Honorary member 1976

His life & work:

< biography to follow > Dr Robert A Taylor, President 1959

His letter, written from 34 Kirkgate, Irvine, on 10th May, 1976:

Notes:

Dear Andrew,
     It was a great emotional experience to receive your letter regarding my nomination as an Honorary Member of the Irvine Burns Club.
     I am indeed more than grateful for this great honour which has been bestowed on me by the Club,.
     I have tried to carry out my duties to the Club and the town to the best of my ability. This honour has made me very humble.
     I hope to be able to continue any help I can give to the Club in future, and I am deeply conscious of the honour being conferred on me, and which I am delighted to accept.
     Yours sincerely,
     R B Taylor
     Robert Bicket Taylor, M.B., Ch.B.

The addressee is Andrew Hood, Hon. Secy.

The letter is, excepting the signature, typed.

Sir John Betjeman (1906-1984) Honorary member 1977

His life & work:

An English poet traditional in form, accessible in sentiment and often apparently parochial in his concern with English social and domestic life. The seriousness and accomplishment of Betjeman's poetry has often been obscured by its popularity. His "Collected Poems" (1958, rev. 1962) was a best-seller.

Poet Laureate (the reason for his nomination as an honorary member) from 1972, Betjeman was also a broadcaster and an idiosyncratic architectural critic.

WC

His letter, sent from 29 Radnor Walk, London on 26th January, 1977:

Notes:

Dear Mr Hood,
     Honoured to accept your kind invitation. I am at present in hospital but I hope I will soon be released and mobile enough to visit Irvine but cannot promise anything.
     Yours sincerely
     John Betjeman

Only the signature is handwritten. Andrew Hood was Hon. Secretary of Irvine Burns Club at that time.

Jane Burgoyne (1898-1989) Honorary member 1977

His life & work:

Born Jane Lymburn at Coylton, Ayrshire, she was dux medallist both at Coylton Primary School and at Ayr Academy, proceeding to graduate from Edinburgh University with First Class Honours in French and German. Teaching at Speirs School, Beith, she met her husband, married in 1925 and had one daughter.

She had a lifelong interest in Burns, using her linguistic talents to produce a sensitive translation of the biography of Burns by Hans Hecht (in 1936) and of an 1893 French biography by Auguste Angellier.

Jane Burgoyne played a leading part in Burns activities in Ayrshire and was honorary president of several clubs, including Ayr and Alloway. In 1959, Jane was elected an honorary vice-president of the Burns Federation. In 1970, she became the first lady President of the Federation. It was through Jane Burgoyne that the wider Burns movement came to know Professor Toshio Namba, who also accepted honorary membership of the Irvine Burns Club in the year 1977.

Although unable, for health reasons, to attend meetings in her later years, she continued a prolific and world-wide correspondence until her passing at the age of 90.

Her letter, sent from Cairnston Farm, By Ayr, 24th January, 1977:

Notes:

Dear Mr Hood,
     Thank you for your letter of 19th January, informing me that I have been nominated as an Honorary Member of Irvine Burns Club, an honour which I have the greatest pleasure in accepting. I have long been impressed by your Club's unique list of honorary members, but never dreaming that I might one day be invited to figure in it.
     Please convey my appreciation to the members of the Club and assure them of my deep consciousness of the distinction they have bestowed upon me.
     May I add that the letter of invitation is a work of art in itself! The Guide too is very attractive.
     With best wishes to you and the Club,
     I am,
     Yours sincerely,
     Jane Burgoyne

The addressee is Andrew Hood, Hon. Secy.

Prof. Toshio Namba (....-1989) Honorary member 1977

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, of 19th November, 1977:

Notes:

Dear Sir,
     It was the proudest, happiest minute of my life when I received the epistle of appointment for Honorary Member of Irvine Burns Club.
     Your Burns Club shines brilliantly for tradition and history and the present achievements. I feel it a great honour to join the illustrious company of Charles Dickens, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Brown, Sir Alexander Fleming, Albert Schweitzer, George Bernard Shaw, and the like, whom I respect and reverence from the very bottom of my heart. "Struggling student as I am, I will not quit the pen on Burns as long as I breathe" (as Mrs Jane Burgoyne kindly cited my words in Burns Chronicle 1972).
     In the name of St Andrews, I needs must perform my own duty as Burns scholar from now on.
     I pray tae Scotia that my humble writings may exert an influence upon [the] younger generation in Japan even after my death mysterious and untraceable.
     May Irvine Burns Club prosper forevermore!
     Let me be reiterating my hearty thanks ....!
     Yours very faithfully,
     Toshio Namba
     Newly appointed Honorary Member of Irvine Burns Club
19th Nov., 1977

Prof. Namba sent both an acceptance in beautiful Japanese calligraphy and the translation, written with the same pen.

The reference to Brown refers to Browning.

James Callaghan (1912-2005) Honorary member 1977

His life & work:

James Leonard Callaghan, Baron, a British statesman, was Prime Minister from 1976 to 1979 (the reason for his nomination as an honorary member). He entered Parliament in 1945 and succeeded Harold Wilson as Labour Party leader in 1976.

He is the only Prime Minister to have held all three major offices of state - Chancellor of the Exchequer (1964-67), Home Secretary (1967-70) and Foreign Secretary (1974-76). He is also the second post-war Prime Minister never to have won a General Election.

Callaghan's tenure was marked by negotiations with David Steel in the Lib-Lab pact, and strife with the trade unions culminating in the 'Winter of Discontent'. He was defeated by Margaret Thatcher in 1979 and became a life peer in 1987.

WC

His letter, sent from 10 Downing Street on 7th February 1977:

Notes:

Dear Mr Hood
     Thank you for your letter of 19 January inviting me to accept Honorary Membership of Irvine Burns Club.
     I was very interested to learn of the rich tradition and activities of the Club and am honoured to have been invited to join a club of which so many distinguished people have been members. It gives me great pleasure to accept Honorary Membership.
     Thank you also for your kind invitation to visit the Club. As you will appreciate, my Parliamentary and other commitments prevent me from visiting Ayrshire as often as I would like, but I will certainly bear your invitation in mind.
     Yours sincerely
     James Callaghan

The "Dear Mr Hood" and the "Yours sincerely, James Callaghan" are handwritten onto the typed letter.

Sheikh Yamani (1930-) Honorary member 1977

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, sent from the Ministry of Petroleum & Mineral Resources, Saudi Arabia, on February 12, 1977:

Notes:

Dear Mr Hood:
     I wish to thank you for your kind letter of January 19, 1977, nominating me to an honorary membership of the Irvine Burns Club.
     I am pleased to inform you of my acceptance, however, I am not sure when I will be able to visit the Club physically due to my very busy schedule ahead.
     Kind regards,
     Sincerely,
     Ahmed Zaki Yamani
     Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources

The addressee is Andrew Hood, Hon. Secy.

The letter is, excepting the signature, typed.

Henry Kissinger (1923-) Honorary member 1977

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, sent on 3/9/77:

Notes:

Dear Mr Hood
     I would be honoured to accept the invitation of the Irvine Burns Club for honorary membership and to join the illustrious company who thus pay tribute to the immortal Robert Burns.
     I hope that I shall soon have the opportunity to visit the Club and I look forward with keen interest to spending some time in the Library and Museum when I am in Scotland.
     With good wishes
     Henry A. Kissinger

The addressee is Andrew Hood, Hon. Secy.

Maurice Roëves (....) Honorary member 1977

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, sent from The Richard Demarco Gallery Ltd, Monteith House, 61 High St., Edinburgh, on 2nd September 1977:

Notes:

Dear Brothers in Burns,
     It is with great respect and happiness that I accept your offer of a Honorary Life membership in the Irvine Burns Club.
     The play "There Was a Man" has been received very well, through here at the Edinburgh Festival and more & more people keep telling me that they are going back to re-study their Burns - this can only be a benefit to them and the rest of humanity.
     I'll never forget your kind hospitality and help with my study of the role - Thank you.
     Yours fae taken a whim tae when God will forgive us all -
     Aye yours,
     Maurice Roëves

 

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