The Robert Henryson Society

Annual General Meeting 14 August

Secretary's Report

The committee of the Society has met on eight occasions since the last AGM, on 12 June 1998, 4 September 1998, 21 October 1998, 9 December 1998, 20 January 1999, 8 March 1999, 23 June 1999 and most recently on 3 August 1999. The Carnegie Dunfermline Trust has kindly continued to allow us the use of their Board Room for committee meetings. We have also to thank the Trust for their continuing financial support in the shape of the annual grant confirmed until 2000, and for providing help in reproducing leaflets and other material.

As Dr Corbett would be leaving the country for a sabbatical year in October 1998, he approached Professor Ian Brown to take over the post of chairman, which he agreed to do. Prof Brown has been chairing the meetings since 4 September, and chairs the present conference.

Unfortunately, membership has continued to fall in the past year, despite a number of initiatives designed to increase support amongst teachers in particular. There are still new names appearing on the membership list, but a number of previous members have not renewed. In addition, we have lost a number of very committed members: Robert Whitelaw, John Aitkenhead, Charlotte McNaughton, to name only three.

Three Friday evening meetings were held during the winter, the first in the Music Institute on 9 October, where we had a fascinating talk on Henryson's Dunfermline from Dr Pat Dennison of Edinburgh University. The Cheese and Wine party for members was held on 6 November, and this was specially promoted to schools in the hope that a number of teachers would come to hear about the work of the society, and see the video of the excellent talk given at a previous conference by Mr Gerard Baird of Grove Academy, in Dundee, on the teaching of Henryson in school. Those few teachers who did attend were very enthusiastic, and took away some of the materials that had been produced by Barbara Rasmusen and Lovina Roe to try them out in their own schools. Unfortunately, the schools workshop proposed for 6 February could not go ahead as scheduled, but, once changed to a weekday in-service on teaching Scots language in school with a focus on Henryson, it was very successfully run by Barbara Rasmusen, with input from Sabina Black and Margaret Tollick on 5 May 1999. The meeting on 5 March 1999 took place at Queen Margaret College in Edinburgh where a number of students gave a dramatised reading of some of the Fables. This was a very successful evening.

As you will hear from the chairman, the Henryson Tassie, presented to the Society by Scotsoun, has been awarded for the first time this year. Scotsoun has continued to produce cassette material relevant to the Society, the most recent being Lang Syne in the East Neuk, which includes the recording of 'The Two Mice' originally done for the Society.

Following a request, the Society has this year received sponsorship from Dunfermline Building Society, which will be used to promote the Schools Competition with prize money donated to the Society by Alasdair Gray.

The programme of events for 1999-2000 has been largely finalised, and the chairman will refer to the Friday evening activities in his report to you shortly. It is hoped that despite the fall in membership that has been seen, we can encourage existing members to participate, and perhaps to bring friends along to meetings in order to raise the interest level.

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