11 February 2019

Club member Andy Matthew was speaker on 11th February and told the remarkable story of how a pair of surplus communion chalices made the long journey from their home church in the East Neuk of Fife, to St Andrew’s Scots Kirk in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The story started almost eighty years ago, when two young men enlisted in the Army. They trained together, became officers together, joined the Chindits together and together fought the Japanese in Burma during WW2.

They survived and returned home to find civilian life lacking. Both decided to become Ministers in the Church of Scotland. They trained together and were ordained together. One became Minister at Netherlee church in Glasgow; the other at St Andrew’s, Colombo.

They remained in touch and for over sixty years, Netherlee Church has maintained fellowship and friendship in partnership with St Andrew’s. This also led to a live connection between the 91st Glasgow (Netherlee) Scouts and the 17th Colombo St Andrew’s (Netherlee) Scout Group.

For many years the congregation at Netherlee supported the Ladies Ward 19 at Mulleriyawa Mental Hospital in Colombo; but it was in 2005 that Netherlee Church made a major contribution towards the establishment and continuing operation of a halfway house called ‘Netherlee Cottage’. This place enables ladies from Mulleriyawa to be rehabilitated into society, develop skills for employment and move on to independent living.

But it was the decision to mark the 90th Anniversary of Netherlee Church, by providing St Andrew’s Church with a Communion Cup, that brought this story to its conclusion. A need for a communion cup was advertised. Contacts in the Church of Scotland worked their magic, the need was satisfied, a donation made and the East Neuk Chalices found a new home.

A remarkable and intriguing story of the power of the friendship and fellowship of two men; of two congregations and of worlds many thousands of miles apart - and yet together. 

It was a humbling yet warming story and one for which Malcolm MacDonald was delighted to propose an appreciative vote of thanks on behalf of the club.  


28 January 2019

We were delighted to welcome Professor Emeritus David Bradley, to our club meeting of 28th January. Professor Bradley is an HMS Unicorn volunteer and past trustee of The Unicorn Preservation Society. We were treated to a fascinating and detailed illustrated tour through the life and times of this historic frigate, which is berthed in Dundee.

Her longevity is remarkable, having spent almost 200 years afloat, with over 100 of those years (1873 till today) spent in Dundee.

We heard that Unicorn is, importantly, an example  of a key moment in the design of  naval vessels; one that resulted in the transformation over the 100 years from 1805 to 1906, from navies based on sailing warships – the Wooden Walls – to ones based on armoured and steam powered vessels – the Dreadnoughts.

To understand just how huge this change was, we were invited to imagine ourselves as seamen on Henry VIII’s Mary Rose in 1545. Then 260 years later on HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Although there would be some differences, Victory essentially sailed, fought and functioned in exactly the same manner as the Mary Rose. But go forward another hundred years, to 1906 and HMS Dreadnought and you would be in an entirely alien environment. Gone are sails and wooden construction to be replaced by steam turbines and steel armour. Gone are rows of muzzle loading cannon with ranges of 2 or 3 kilometres to be replaced by turrets carrying breech loading guns capable of firing 12-inch explosive shells weighing 850 pounds distances in excess of 12 miles.

Professor Bradley elaborated on fundamental changes that were happening - new materials such as wrought iron making for stronger construction; with improved hull design leading to faster and more stable performance and seakeeping. Wrought iron also permitted larger hull construction, with greater resistance to round shot and at the same time providing more stable gun platforms. 

Of great historical importance, Unicorn also represents the end of the sailing ship navy. In 1827, three years after Unicorn was launched, came the Battle of Navarino Bay, the last battle fought entirely by sailing warships. The day after the battle the steam warship Karteria, designed and built in Britain at Rotherhide on the Thames and in service with the Greek navy, entered the bay!

Interesting too was the fact that Unicorn never sailed under her own power. She was roofed over and used for training and other purposes and only ever had training masts installed. Interestingly she did, in May 1945, accept the surrender of a Nazi-era submarine - but that is another story! Importantly she is perhaps 80% original - even the roof is the original!

This was an outstandingly interesting talk, with many fascinating pictures and vast detail. More can be found at ( Following questions an appreciative vote of thanks was proposed by Roderick Skinner. 



21 January 2019

Monday 21st January and club members, along with guests, enjoyed a relaxed, friendly and uplifting celebration of the life and work of Robert Burns..

John Anderson and his team of The Rockies Restaurant at Anstruther Golf Club, (the club’s weekly meeting place) provided food and service that wanted for nothing. Presided over by club President Findlay McLaren, the evening kicked off with a Selkirk Grace from Roderick Skinner. The Haggis was skirled in by piper Audrey Clarke in fine style and led in by Karen Anderson, heavily disguised as Poosie Nancy. 

A rousing Address by Graham Meacher displayed knife skills of the highest order; the poor beast being soon despatched, at no small risk to those nearby!

Leek and potato soup then haggis with neeps and tatties (with mince too, if fancied by those of an East Neuk persuasion) But vegetable lasagne or ham salad for anyone with a gentler disposition. And then shortbread, tablet and coffee. Well satisfied, a short breather was welcome before the ‘sangs and clatter’.

And then an Immortal Memory from Elizabeth Riches. A first try she said - but modestly was not necessary. We enjoyed a thoughtful and fresh interpretation with an insight that was very clearly based on considerable knowledge and research. We heard that Elizabeth had been enticed along by the offer of a box of farm-fresh vegetables - hardly recompense enough for such a treat. 

‘The Lassies’ followed from Steve Blaney; a man who claimed that the evening was also his first performance at a Burns event. Steve entertained with a jovial celebration of the lassies - although, it must be said, touching on sensitive ground when commenting on shopping habits! But all in good spirit and an enthusiastic toast followed.  

‘Reply to The Lassies’ from Lianne Brunton was a journey into the surreal with humour that, as tradition demands, reflected on the frailties of the human male. That there were quite so many should not have come as a surprise: the shock of this discovery being well tempered by some fine jokes of the Brunton ilk. 

A recitation from Malcolm MacDonald revealed another unsuspected skill in a club member. An original poem - home made - a club laureate perhaps? - not many in Rotary we think. No doubt McGonagall was looking down in awe!!

And then to the final treat - Peter Peddie and Tam O Shanter. How is it done? Peter told us that he has been getting in the carrot harvest - are they good for memory too? Always a favourite, with a sparkle that never fades, Peter’s interpretation was practiced fluent and eloquent. A joy.

And so a splendid evening drew to a close with a warm vote of thanks proposed by Eric Dewhirst. To organiser Ian Brunton and to all who made such an enjoyable evening possible. In a troubled world it was timely to reflect on the words of Robert Burns - ‘That man to man, the world o'er, shall brothers be for a that’ - and the aims of Rotary, in shared fellowship and friendship.


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