ENTHUSIASTS of Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns, have lost one of their most venerable members with the death, at the age of 93, of Archie McArthur, from Kelso.
He passed away last month in Borders General Hospital, surrounded by his loving family.
Archie’s passion for Burns and all things Scottish was sparked as a schoolboy in Glasgow. Even as a youth he had a deep knowledge of the bard and would recite widely and regale his peers with stories and verse.
He joined Glasgow Masonic Burns Club No. 263, and in time served as treasurer and president. He represented the club at Glasgow association level and from 1975 represented the association on the executive of the Burns Federation.
When Glasgow hosted the federation conference, Archie headed the organising committee and for the Glasgow Garden Festival weekend, hosted by the association, he was convener.
Even after his move to Kelso in 1980, Archie maintained his contacts, activities and service to the Glasgow association. Archie had visited the Borders regularly prior to his move to Kelso and it was not long before he found himself speaking at many of the clubs and suppers in the region.
He proposed the Immortal Memory at Hawick Burns Club in 1982 and struck up a relationship with that club which led to him lecturing the newly-established Burns study group at its monthly gatherings. In recognition of his inspirational efforts in many spheres of endeavour, Archie was elected an honorary member of Hawick Burns Club. Archie had also been president of Kelso Burns Club.
From his earliest time in the Borders he developed relationships with many clubs and hoped to establish a formal gathering, which he achieved in 1999 with the formation of the Borders Association of Burns Clubs, which currently represents the Coldstream, Duns, Eyemouth Clachan, Galashiels, Hawick, Jedburgh, Kelso, Peebles and Whiteadder organisations. He was the first chairman of this association and an honorary president.
Archie was also a prodigious writer, producing numerous booklets which he freely handed out, brought out a celebration DVD and established his own website, all devoted to Burns.
Archie’s passion for all things related to Robert Burns saw him freely give of his time and knowledge to help others who shared this enthusiasm. His love of the subject shone through in his warmth and the friendly delivery of the knowledge that was inspirational to many.
Archie was an honorary president of The Robert Burns World Federation, and of the many so honoured, no-one more richly deserved this.
He served the Burns Federation from 1975 and, virtually without a break, was a tireless servant, only laying down his representative mantle in 2010.
His funeral at Kelso North Parish Church was attended by numerous past presidents of the Robert Bums World Federation, and many Burnsians from far and wide travelled to pay their respects and honour his great achievements.
z Information courtesy of The Robert Burns World Federation and The Burns Chronicle.