In late January the ship's company of HMS Calliope gathered on the banks of the Tyne to celebrate the birthday of the legendary poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796), raising money for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity in the process.

A 'Burns supper' is a celebration of the life and poetry of Robert Burns, author of many Scottish poems. The suppers are normally held on or near the poet's birthday, 25 January, sometimes also known as Robert Burns Day. 

A history of suppers

The first suppers were held in memoriam at Ayrshire at the end of the 18th century by Robert Burns' friends on 21 July, the anniversary of his death, and have been a regular occurrence ever since. The first Burns club was founded in Greenock in 1801 by merchants born in Ayrshire, some of whom had known Burns. They held the first Burns supper on what they thought was his birthday, 29 January 1802, but in 1803 they discovered in Ayr parish records that his date of birth was 25 January 1759. 

Since then, suppers have been held on 25 January. Burns suppers may be formal or informal. Both typically include haggis (a traditional Scottish dish celebrated by Burns in Address to a Haggis), Scotch whisky, and the recitation of Burns's poetry. 

Left to right: PO 'Dixie' Dixon and PO McConnell

HMS Calliope's entertaining company

During HMS Calliope's supper and in true traditional style, Surgeon Cdr Small, PO Neil Adams, Lou Armstrong, AB Cat Small and CO Ian White, carried out the speeches and poem reading, with some amateur dramatics thrown in. 

Surgeon Cdr Small made address to the haggis along with some recitals of Robbie Burns’s poetry. PO Neil Adams read out the Immortal memory and Lou Armstrong made toast to te Quessn (toast to the Queen). 

The traditional laddie and lassie speeches were expertly conducted by Calliopes CO, Ian white with the response from AB Cat Small. A fabulous traditional meal was served to the guests, by Mr Burbeck and his team whilst the live band provided traditional music and Scottish dancing well into the evening. 

This fabulous occasion and event is held annually at HMS Calliope and big thanks must go to the people who help make it happen, and the guests who always turn up in their droves!

The evening's events raised £502.07 for The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity; mostly thanks to a well supported raffle, 'shove pound' and various other traditional mess games.

Left to right: LS Fiona Porteus, AB 'Cat' Small