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Annual Gathering 1923

Perhaps the first bright landmark of the 1914.18 post war period was the Annual Gathering of 1923.  No ordinary gathering was this, but one designed to mark in brilliant fashion the sixtieth anniversary of the career of the Edinburgh John O’Groat Benevolent Association.  A dinner in the Music Hall on the 19th of January 1923, at six o’ clock, at which some 200 members and friends were present, under the presidency of Mr W G Campbell, and with the Lord Lieutenant of the County, The Rt. Hon. Robert Munro, D.L.L.L.D., (Lord Alness), Lord Justice Clerk, as principal guests, was succeeded by a concert held in the adjoining hall.  The speeches by Mr President Campbell, Sir Archibald Sinclair and the Lord Justice Clerk were not of a hackneyed type, but had the ring of sincerity. Many must have experienced a sense of agreeable surprise on learning from the grandson of a former minister of Bruan, that with all the newspapers of the south at his command and in spite of all judicial labours, he read every week two newspapers of the northern county, singling out for honourable mention the varied and entertaining column of “Cairnduna”.  Excellent as were these sederunts of dinner and concert, they were eclipsed for sheer joy by the ball that followed in the Assembly Rooms, which is probably the finest hall for dancing in Scotland.  On this memorable night the three enormous splendidly formed chandeliers with their myriads of cut crystal cubes rendered iridescent by the electric lights cunningly contrived among them, never looked down upon a happier throng than that which glided over the polished floor to the witching music of the orchestra. The fair ladies’ multi-coloured silk and satin dresses were an excellent foil to the black dress suits and the tartan kilts of the men.

Although the dancers fell far short of their predecessors of half a century ago in failing to “trip it on the light fantastic toe”, until seven or eight o’clock in the morning they were certainly not surpassed in the “great vigour and spirit “ which they manifested until the close at 3. am.  The final ceremony which completed the festival was an impressive picture in itself.  Who that was there can ever forget the four long coloured lines ranged around the four walls of the hall and the singing, with inter clasped hands, of “Auld Land Syne”.

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