LAST Friday marked the 260th anniversary of Robert Burns’ birth.

To celebrate, Galashiels Burns Club raised a traditional glass or two to honour both his life and his legacy.

For more than a century the Braw Lads of the Gala Water have been revering, recalling and reciting Scotland’s Bard.

That tradition was impeccably and humorously upheld yet again on Friday evening in the Volunteer Hall.

Chairman Alastair Christie assembled a talented top table of speakers – Alan Brydon, Alistair Pattullo, Scott Renwick and Graeme Howlieson.

And the enlisted entertainers – Craig Douglas, Grant Lees, Sam Clelland, Chris Achenbach and Dave Darling - made sure there was never a dull moment.

At the stroke of seven, Haggis Bearer Tom Cass delivered the chieftan’ o’ the puddin’ race, accompanied by piper Sid Sanderson.

And so began an evening that would certainly have made delighted Scotland’s greatest ever poet.

Following a fine feast served up by the Auld Mill, Hawick’s Alan Brydon delivered the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns.

The former carding engineer, who is now a visiting professor at Leeds University, is regarded as one of the region’s finest traditional songwriters and authors.

Despite speaking at functions all over the world, this was surprisingly his first time in front of a microphone in Galashiels.

And he was quick to remind the gathering of his strong loyalties for a town just 18 miles down the A7.

Although Burns regularly visited and wrote about the Borders – as is testified by the many statues and plaques all over the region – Hawick wasn’t one of his destinations.

But this isn't something Mr Brydon contests.

He said: “There’s plenty said about him staying in Jethert, Kelsae, Gala and Selkirk, but I dinnae believe he didnae come to Hawick.

“There are pages missing frae the Borderland diaries and I think this was an early Gala conspiracy.”

Informed, funny and full of song, Alan delighted the audience and reminded them how Burns was never detracted from using Scots by the literary critics.

He added: “Burns embraced oor mother tongue – he wasnae put off by criticism of his grammar or spellings by the elite o' his day.

“The names of those critics are lost in time but the words of Burns live on.”

It was the dancing Scots dialect of Burns that provided Selkirk businessman Craig Douglas with the opportunity to perform.

His animated and word-perfect rendition of the rollicking ride, Tam o’ Shanter, had the hall in stitches.

Following on from the antics of Craig were the dependable and delightful assemble of Grant Lees, Sam Clelland, Chris Achenbach and Dave Darling with the songs and tunes of Burns that have been, and will continue to be, treasured for generations.

Alistair Pattullo may have lived in Selkirk for the past 29 years, and even chairs the town’s community council, but he’s was quick to point out that he's still a Gala man.

The former music store owner and stage manager described his honour in being invited to speak in his hometown.

His Toast to the Lassies was assured, humorous and also included a song or two.

Alistair argued that Burns would have been a fervent supporter of modern-day feminism if he’d been around.

And he backed up his claim by reminding the gathering how Burns was a regular correspondent of women poets and actresses during his short life.

But Alistair revealed how his own liking for Burns also stemmed for the dialect that was normally banned in the classroom.

He said: “He wrote the way we spoke.

“Around Burns night was the only time of the year at school when you were allowed to speak in class the same way you’d be speaking in the playground.”

Approaching the witching hour, Hawick PE teacher Scott Renwick made sure the well-fed and well-watered gathering were still alert with a humorous and thought-provoking Land O’ Cakes, Caledonia.

The accomplished musician, though, didn’t burst into song as he described his own links with Galashiels and how influences and memories, like with Burns, make you the man you become.

Scott painted an admiring picture of the Borderlands and wider Scotland – lands full of contradictions yet lands to be loved.

And so, exactly 111 years after Burns was first honoured by an official supper in Galashiels, it was left to Graeme Howlieson to bring another memorable evening to a close with the Vote of Thanks… and one final toast to Scotland’s Bard.