some key projects of Irvine Burns Club



read on!

Dear Mr Burns

Dear Mr Burns

An exhibition, with 27 panels, celebrating our Honorary Members from across the world, in the year of Homecoming Scotland, 2009

Masterclass Music

Masterclasses

A series of four evenings featuring the music, songs, poetry, and language of Robert Burns, in the bicentenary year of his death, 1996

Irvine harbour 2010

Harbour Heritage

A research and public awareness project, creating a pride of place in the harbour area, 2012-2017

School visit

School visits

About 600 pupils from local primary schools have visited, in January and February, in recent years up to 2019.

Verse speaking Competition

Verse-speaking competitions

About 110 entrants from most of Irvine's eleven primary schools take part in February each normal year.

Wits Dinner

Wits Dinners

Held annually for 25 years, from 1993 to 2017, they raised a total of almost £100,000. Read below of the generosity of speakers & artistes.

Forever 19 event

Opening in 2014, Irvine Burns Club and North Ayrshire Council marked the Great War in ‘Forever19’, an exhibition (including the VC of Capt. Harry Ranken) and events supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. In 2016 ’Wellwood’ hosted two evenings featuring an audio-visual created by Jim Gibb and local people, and the Imperial War Museum film ‘The Battle of the Somme’, produced in 1916 for public viewing; two secondary school groups attended special morning showings. 

The Wits Dinners raised funds for Action Medical Research and Irvine Burns Club (shared equally), being organised jointly by dedicated supporters of Action Medical Research and directors of Irvine Burns Club. Over 25 years, from 1993 to 2017, the Wits Dinners were held in the Hospitality Inn (now the Riverside Hotel), black tie events attracting 130 to 180 attenders each year. At each, three or four speakers, charging no fees, competed for the votes of their audiences as the wittiest speaker, with the winners speaking again at the end of each three- or four-year cycle in an All Winners Dinner. In addition, guest artistes contributed music or song, also without charging fees. Irvine Burns Club used proceeds for special projects rather than running costs, such as the 'Independent Minds' sculpture in 'Wellwood'. To celebrate those 25 dinners, and the almost £100,000 they raised in total, we list here the names of the speakers, entertainers and major sponsors who supported them - their names will prompt memories of superb evenings enjoyed in fund-raising, as will the name of the initial leading organiser, Ann Caldwell.

Speakers included: Eileen Ballantyne, Rev. Georgina Baxendale, Gio Benedetti, Rev Andy Black, Fr William Boyd, James Brodie, Craig Brown, Hugh Brown, Jane Brown, Ian P Buchanan, Rev. Effie Campbell, Sheila Campbell*, Drew Cochrane, Brian Donohoe, Hugh Drennan, Billy Dunn, Michael Dunn, Bill Ferguson*, Allan Findlay, Donald Findlay, Tich Frier, Forbes Gauld, Baroness Annabel Goldie, Jim Haslett, Jean Hillhouse, Peter Hughes, Ricky Hutchison, Gordon Jackson, Charles Jacobsen, Marion Johnston, Dennis Johnston*, John Kerr, Rev. Chrissie Lane, Malky McCormick, Rod McCowan, Ian Macdonald, Michael McDonnell, Kenneth M McIntosh, Ian McPherson, Tom Meehan*, Len Murray, George Moore, Dr Jocelyn Nelson, Marilyn Orchardson, Linda Ormiston, Ron Orr, Jean E Park, Tom Paterson, Jim Robertson, Eddie Rose, Rev Alec Shuttleworth, Stewart Smith, Bert Thomson, Alf Vannet, David Vennard, James Wardrop, George Watson, Jack Westwood, Meg Whyte and Stewart  Whyte.    (* speakers at the first Dinner)

Entertainers included: Eileen Ballantyne, Jim Butler, Stephen Cowan, Jenna Dawson & Alan Gemmell, Tich Frier, James Gow, Jameson Greer, Gwynneth Guthrie, Dennis Haggardy*, John Mason, Barry McAleer & Alison Muslek, Adam McNaughton*, Lisa Milne*, Andy & Margaret Morris, Jocelyn Nelson (later Skaaning) & friends, Linda Robertson, Kimberley Sayers, Maureen & Alistair Smith, Sylvia Stark, Gordon Stevenson, Willie Stewart, Tapselteerie, Alan Watt & friends from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Douglas Whyte*, Andy Young and Willie Young.     (* entertainers at the first Dinner)

Sponsors included: The Barcapel Foundation, Booth Welsh, County Saab, Craighall Tyres, Giles Insurance Brokers, The Hospitality Inn (afterwards the Thistle, then Menzies, then Hallmark Hotel), Spirit Aerosystems, Thom Matthew & Co., Volvo Truck & Bus Assembly, Giles Insurance Brokers, Wilson Sporting Goods and many other local businesses.


  • Wellwood Burns Centre & Museum
  • 28 Eglinton Street,
  • Irvine, Ayrshire, KA12 8AS

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