On a beautiful balmy evening on the 7th of May, members and friends of Clan Donald Auckland gathered at the Quality Hotel Parnell for the 18th Annual Dinner. Auckland was in the midst of enjoying an unusually warm late Autumn with temperatures in the mid twenties.
The President Bruce McGechan and his wife Halina welcomed the guests, as they entered the hotel to the sound of the pipes played by the Clan Piper Anton Hodson.
To start the evening the Official Party was led in by the piper Anton Hodson. Carl Bradley carrying the “Great Sword of Islay” followed with the President Bruce McGechan and his wife Halina, and the North Island Commissioner Tom McDonald and his wife Lynnette, who is also a Vice President of Clan Donald Auckland.
The President welcomed the guests and said that there was not only a great buffet but great entertainment as well. There was the traditional Haggis Ceremony and our old friends the Balmoral Dancers. And a special treat, with Blair Hodson, the 2015 New Zealand B Grade Piping Champion, playing a few sets of tunes. This young 23 year old has developed into a fantastic piper, and Clan Donald Auckland is proud to have him as a Clan Piper as well.
The Guest Speaker for the evening was our Vice President and Historian Carl Bradley. He gave us an address on the recent Australian Conference held in Victoria, Australia. Carl was also the MC for the evening.
The President Bruce McGechan with the Vice President and MC Carl Bradley.
The Haggis Ceremony followed the singing of the Scottish National Anthem the “Flower of Scotland”. Led by the piper Anton Hodson the Haggis Party, Guards Carl Bradley and Bryan Haggitt, Haggis Bearer Barrie Paterson, Bard Tom McDonald and Whisky Bearer Bruce McGechan, paraded the Haggis around the room. Tom McDonald gave his usual great rendition of the Robbie Burns “Ode to the Haggis”.
The Rev Barrie McCuish gave the “Selkirk Grace” before the guests enjoyed the entrée of Haggis, Tatties and Neeps.
Before the main course, we were entertained by the very talented piper, Blair Hodson. He really demonstrated his fantastic ability by ending his recital with a series of hornpipes and jigs, which had everyone tapping fingers and toes. He will give many of the A Grade pipers a run for their money in the 2016 competitive season.
Blair entering the room at the start of his recital.
Blair finishing his recital with a set of jigs.
Blair resting after his recital with his father Anton centre, and Clan Donald Patron Murdock McDonald.
The Buffet dinner itself was a fantastic selection of dishes. Including Beef Bourguignon, Cajun chicken, honey glazed ham plus a range of vegetable dishes and salads, which catered for everyone. And the desserts were so delicious. The choice was from apple and blueberry crumble to Pavlova and chocolate log, all with mouth-watering trimmings.
Two of the Clan Donald Auckland Committee Members, Eileen Clark and Barrie Paterson, enjoying the dinner.
From the left. Treasurer Geoff Parry, Margaret Parry, Lawrence and Marlene Mathews, Vice President Lynnette McDonald, North Island Commissioner Tom McDonald and a visitor from Adelaide, Australia, David Hutcheson.
Members, and visitors enjoying the evening. From the left Lyn Bergquist, Sally Meiklejohn, Norman Cameron President of Clan Cameron, and his wife Jill, Jenny and Bryan Haggitt Clan Cameron members, and Doug and Janet Williamson.
From the left. Halina McGechan, Lois McDonald, Murdock McDonald, Anton, Blair and Carrie Hodson.
Our old friends the Balmoral Dancers gave a very impressive performance accompanied by Kerry Loomis, a well-known and talented piper.
The Balmoral Dancers ready to start the performance.
The Balmoral Dancers accompanied by Piper Kerry Loomis dance the Highland Fling.
After dinner the usual four toasts were given. For Scotland by Vice President Carl Bradley, Clan Donald by the President Bruce McGechan, Absent Friends by the North Island Commissioner Tom McDonald and to Visiting Clans by our Patron Murdock McDonald. Norman Cameron, the President of Clan Cameron gave the reply to the toast to Visiting Clans.
Carl Bradley gave a very interesting and often humorous address on the recent Australasian Conference held at Queenscliff near Melbourne in Australia. The members attending the conference also had the opportunity to do some sightseeing and also visit the Geelong Highland Games.
After a great and very enjoyable evening, all that was left was to finish with the traditional Auld Lang Syne.