Who is the Longest Serving ‘Office Bearer’ in a Burns Club

by untangledwebl

For many years, ‘Let it Blaw’ members believed our Club’s first Secretary, John Fairbairn, holds the record as the longest serving ‘Office Bearer’ in any Burns Club. But does he ?

John Fairbairn, while not one of the Founding Members of ‘Let it Blaw’, was one of the 23 Gentlemen who sat down to Dinner at our first Supper. He was appointed the Club’s first Secretary in 1883 and he back-dated reports of the first two years. Anecdotal evidence suggests he was the “Administrator” who organised the 1881 and 1882 Suppers which, at best, means he served as Secretary for 52 years until he stepped down in 1933.  For the record, Johnnie was a member of ‘Let it Blaw’ until his death in 1939.

For long enough, Coldstream Burns Club thought they held a record by only having three Secretaries in 80 years. However, when they claimed this to be some sort of record in writing, they were countered by Kelso Burns Club on behalf of the late Alexander Bell Tully MRCVS, Ecky Tully to his cronies, who was mentioned in the Kelso minutes of 1899 when he sang a song or two at their annual Supper. From 1900 to 1905 inclusive, he alternated between being the Chairman and being Croupier until, in 1906, he was appointed Secretary. Eckie held the post until 1960 when he was succeeded by a Robert Donaldson, so he appears to hold the record as having been Club Secretary for just over 54 years.

Eckie was a great local character in the Kelso area; a vet of no mean repute, especially in regard to hunters and racehorses, a not very successful farmer, and certainly no respecter of officialdom, or people who considered themselves to be of great importance.

On taking over the Secretary’s job in 1960, Donaldson was dismayed to find that the Minute Book hadn’t been written up since 1923. He suggested to Eckie that it was a pity to which the worthy ex-Secretary said “what the hell do ‘e want Minutes for ? If there’s onything ‘e want to ken, just ask me…….. ah can mind it a’ !”

So the answer to the question is that on time alone, Eckie Tully’s 54 years in Kelso holds the record.

However, for 52 years of complete Minutes as opposed to the Kelso history being buried six feet under, stuck for ever in Eckie’s mind, might John Fairbairn of ‘Let it Blaw’ have a case ? We leave you to decide for yourselves.