History of the Club

(paraphrased from words of Norman Watters -Past President- in Jubilee Programme)

past committee

The first Burns supper was convened by members of the Bowhill Communist Party who appointed John Murdoch to preside. The venue was the Bowhill Tavern and the evening proved to be a great success.. The president invited two Russian sailors with a Polish interpreter. This International flavour was to become a feature in future years.

John Murdoch presided over the club for 25 years, during which the committee decided that the club should be made open to all interested in membership. Mr James Gillies arranged a public meeting at the No.1 Goth Bowhill on the 16th October 1954 at which a new constitution was decided.

The original committee was re-elected: Namely, Messrs, John Murdoch, President: Alex(Sandy) Mathieson, Vice President; Jim Gillies Secretary; Edward (Ned) Murdoch, Treasurer and David Arthur, James Balfour, William Duff, James Murdoch, and John McRae as committee members.


At the 1954 meeting it was decided that monthly meeting were to be held for seven months of the year and the annual subscription was to be 2/6. Seventy five members enrolled and a waiting list was set up. Membership was for men only and from the outset John Murdoch instilled "Bowhill Order" meaning exemplary decorum. Thereafter at club meetings, papers of the life or some work of Robert Burns were given by members. The president kept all on their toes for unsuspecting, anyone would be called upon to render an item from the works of our Bard! Thus arose the need for members to become "familiar with the words" (a tradition that continues today – Ed) In the early days practices were held for months prior to the Burns supper, mostly in the homes of Sandy Mathieson, James Balfour and James Gillies, with Duncan and David McAinsh. John Keddie, David Arthur and other singers. Other performers of note were Andrew Graham for "Holy Willie’s Prayer" and Charlie McRae for "To a Mouse". The success of the entertainment over the years has been much enhanced by the many piano accompanists worthy of mention. The two longest serving were Agnew Walkinshaw for 25 years and Chrissie Reddek for 18 years.


Chrissie Reddek
Chrissie Reddek
Jim Gillies
Jim Gillies

In 1957 the club joined the Burns Federation with Number 803. At that time there were 6 Burns clubs in Cardenden, including 3 ladies clubs. The only other remaining one today is The Auchterderan Jolly Beggars Club founded in 1912.

Mr James Gillies succeeded John Murdoch as president in 1964. No one more than Jim possessed such a memory store of the works of Robert Burns and the talent to sing, play and recite them. He started the local children’s Burns Competitions and carried on the good work of the concert party to conduct Burns Suppers for many organisations in and outwith Fife

The highlights of these performance were an extract from "The Jolly Beggars", the trio version of "O Willie Brewed a Peck O Maut", "The Ploughman" and the finale to "The Carls o Dysart". Many people over the years have come to know more about our National Bard, to know truth from fiction and to respect his philosophy of International Brotherhood.

Jim Gillies outstanding contribution while committee member, secretary and president amounts to 37 years in all up to February 1977. This was followed by Hugh Docherty who gave 11 years of presidency after which it was decided the term of office should be changed and set at three years; the current practice in use today.

Hugh & Jessie Docherty
Mr & Mrs Hugh Docherty

 If you don't see a menu on the left you are not in the frames.     Click here to reload in frame