On a beautiful but cool Autumn evening on the 6th of May, members and friends of Clan Donald Auckland gathered in the Rutherford Room of Alexandra Park for the 20th Anniversary Dinner.
It was a very auspicious occasion for Clan Donald Auckland as this was the celebration of the society becoming incorporated in 1997. The significance was commented upon by many of the guests during pre-dinner drinks. It was also of note that two of the original four Foundation Members, were present. John Hawthorn the original Secretary, and Elwyn Martin, the current South Island Commissioner. The other two, Murdo MacDonald and Donald Webster, have unfortunately died. All four, had been presented with the “Fear Bunachar” (Foundation Member) medal by Lady Lois MacDonell, the Widow of the 22nd Chief of MacDonell of Glengarry, during her visit in 2002.
Around 6.30pm, the 63 guests were piped to their tables by the Clan Piper Anton Hodson.
The evenings programme started with the piping in of the Official Party led by the Clan Piper Anton Hodson, followed by the President Barrie Paterson and his wife Annette, the North Island Commissioner Tom McDonald and his wife Lynnette, and The South Island Commissioner Elwyn Martin and his wife Christine.
The President welcomed the guests and said that there was not only a traditional Scottish dinner menu but great entertainment as well. Our old friends the Balmoral Dancers, and a special treat with a performance by the Auckland Grammar School Pipe Band.
The Guest Speaker for the evening was our Patron and very first President Murdock McDonald. The subject of his address was the very early days and establishment of Clan Donald Auckland.
Our Patron Murdock McDonald and daughter Janet
The MC for the evening was Andrew Wilkie. Andrew kept everything buzzing along with his fund of amusing jokes and quips. We are extremely lucky to have Andrew as he has carried out the function of MC for many of our dinners, and he always seems to have the talent for keeping the occasion moving in a light-hearted fashion.
The MC Andrew Wilkie
Tom McDonald gave the Selkirk Grace followed by the first course of Scotch Broth, served with Scottish Baps.
Two long standing Clan Donald Auckland members Pat and Doug McIsaac
The first entertainment item of the evening was the Auckland Grammar School Pipe Band.
The Auckland Grammar Pipe Band after their performance.
The Pipe Band has a close association with Clan Donald Auckland. Their Tutor is the Clan Donald Piper Anton Hodson. And in 2012 the then High Commissioner and President of Clan Donald Auckland Harold McIsaac, presented the Band with a complete set of kilts. Harold was an “Old Boy” of the Auckland Grammar School, and as his Clan was MacDonald of Clanranald the kilts are in that tartan.
The next entertainment was the Haggis Ceremony. The Haggis Party, Guards Glen McPhee and Jon Winder, Haggis Bearer Bryan Haggitt, Whisky Bearer Doug McIsaac and Bard Tom McDonald were piped in by Anton Hodson.
Tom McDonald gave his usual rendition of the Robbie Burns “Ode to the Haggis.”
The Haggis Party. From the left, Doug McIsaac, Glen McPhee, Tom McDonald, Bryan Haggitt, Jon Winder and Anton Hodson.
Following the serving of the Haggis, Tatties and Neeps, we were entertained by the Balmoral Dancers. Our old friends the Balmoral Dancers have entertained at every annual dinner and for the 20th Anniversary Dinner they brought along 20 dancers. They gave a selection of Highland Dances and for the finale all 20 were on stage. Their very impressive performances, were accompanied by Brian Switalla, a well-known and very talented piper.
All 20 Balmoral Dancers on Stage for the finale.
The Balmoral Dancers performing the Highland Fling
The main course consisted of roast beef or pork with a selection of fresh vegetables.
Pat and Andrew Wilkie
Eileen Clark, Jon and Diane Winder, Lochie Cameron and Noelene McSkimming
Lynnette McDonald, Vice President Clan Donald Auckland, and Christine Martin, President Clan Donald Canterbury and President of Clan Donald New Zealand.
During the evening there were a series of Toasts. James McPhee gave the Toast to Clan Donald Auckland.
The Special 20th Anniversary Cake.
This was followed by the cutting of the special 20th Anniversary Cake, baked by Annette Paterson. The cutting of the cake, was carried out by Elwyn Martin and John Hawthorne, the two Foundation Members. They were also proudly wearing their “Fear Bunachar” medals.
Elwyn Martin and John Hawthorn
After the dessert of “Apple Crumble” Heather Higgins gave the Toast to the Visitors.
During tea and coffee the Guest Speaker Murdock McDonald gave a very erudite address on the foundation and progress of Clan Donald Auckland including the very early days, and the special visits of Ranald Macdonald, The Chief and Captain of Clanranald. who was at the 10th Anniversary Dinner in 2007, and Lois Lady MacDonell, who also made two visits to New Zealand.
Guest Speaker Murdock McDonald
Murdock finished off his address with a special mention of four significant members, Donald Webster, Graeme Hutcheson, Murdo MacDonald and Harold McIsaac who had contributed so much to Clan Donald Auckland and were no longer with us.
Andrew Wilkie then played the slow air “Mist Covered Mountains.”
Andrew then fittingly gave the Toast to Absent friends.
Following the President’s closing remarks Andrew also played for the recessional.
And to finish off a great evening all the guests formed a circle for “Auld Lang Syne” accompanied by Andrew Wilkie on the pipes.
The Guests ready to perform Auld Lang Syne.