On Saturday the 9th of May, the sound of pipes greeted Clan Donald Auckland members and friends as they arrived for the 17th Annual Dinner at the Quality Hotel Parnell.
The Clan Piper Anton Hodson played several sets of pipe tunes outside the Conference Centre as guests arrived. This started off the evening with a real Scottish atmosphere which the guests enjoyed as they chatted over pre-dinner drinks.
At 7 pm, the MC Andrew Wilkie asked the guests to go to their tables for the piping in of the Official Party. The Official Party was led into the Dinner by Carl Bradley carrying the “Great Sword of Islay” followed by 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 a real feast this evening. Not only with a fantastic Buffet menu, which catered for all tastes, but with a Haggis Ceremony and the usual exciting entertainment by the Balmoral Dancers, plus a great presentation of Scottish Celtic Music by the Guest Speaker Heather Laird and Anna Percy.
Following the singing of the Scottish National Anthem the “Flower of Scotland” the Haggis Party led by Piper Anton Hodson, Guards Barrie Paterson and Carl Bradley, Haggis Bearer Geoff Parry, Bard Tom McDonald and Whisky Bearer Andrew Wilkie, paraded the Haggis around the room. Tom McDonald gave a great rendition of the Robbie Burns “Ode to the Haggis”.
As the Haggis and Tatties & Neeps were being prepared for the tables Rev Barrie MacCuish gave the “Selkirk Grace”.
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. For those who needed a Gluten free meal these were included in the menu and the chef also included a special Gluten free dessert.
The Balmoral Dancers, who have entertained at every Auckland dinner since1997, gave a very impressive performance. They were accompanied by a very talented piper Kerry Loomes.
After dinner the usual four Toasts were given. For Scotland by Carl Bradley, Clan Donald by the President Bruce McGechan, Absent Friends by our Genealogist Heather Higgins and to Visiting Clans by the President of the Scottish Clans Association Murdock McDonald.
The address by the Guest Speaker Heather Laird was very interesting as it covered how Scottish Celtic music developed over the centuries. There were plenty of examples played by Heather on the fiddle with Anna Percy on the cello.
At the end of the address many Scottish songs were played with the guests enthusiastically joining in the singing.
A great evening finished with the traditional Auld Lang Syne.