The 15-man pipe band descended on Kampersrus to entertain the guests at the Hoedspruit Rotary Burns gala dinner, attended by over 100 people, many of whom wore colourful traditional Scottish evening dress.
After a whisky tasting to get everyone in the right mood, hosted by past President Humphrey Couch, the guests were piped into the dining area at Amafu Forest Lodge, beautifully decorated with masses of hanging baskets.
The pipe band, who are the South African Champions from Jeppe Boys High School, escorted the guests with favourites like Scotland the Brave, Flower of Scotland, and Amazing Grace, and the sound reverberated across the valley.
Mike Henderson spent a few weeks sourcing and arranging the transport of the best Haggis available in Johannesburg, which was perfectly cooked to the Scottish recipe he provided, but in African style it was done in a huge three-legged pot on the fire.
Two pipers led the procession that brought the haggis to Stuart Miller, who delivered Burns’ ‘Address to the Haggis’. As befits tradition, the haggis was carried on an antique silver tray.
After the main course, Jon Quirk ably toasted the lassies and explained to us that the very first Burns night was a meeting, five years after Robbie Burns’ death, of close friends who really missed his presence. They knew him as a brilliant student and successful farmer, as a great story teller and master with words. Therein lies the genius of the man and the reason today, over 250 years later, he is still revered and remembered.
Maureen Lahoud toasted the laddies with great humour. She went on to say that she is not sure the lassies should become too familiar with the wonderful words of Burns, because every man you meet thereafter will be a disappointment!
The evening ended with an auction of valuable paintings, weekends to luxury places, cycads, and 9 Carat gold jewellery, all donated for Rotary’s good education initiative.
Wilna Mew, Rotary President, will be setting the date for next year’s event imminently: this is certain to become an annual evening in the Hoedspruit social calendar.