Scots Verse competition was started in 1986 to mark the 700th anniversary of the death of King Alexander III. He died after falling from his horse near Kinghorn, whilst travelling to his royal residence there from Edinburgh. A monument to him is located by the roadside between Burntisland and Kinghorn near to the spot where his body was found.
So why commemorate him in this way? He was renowned for bringing peace and prosperity to the people of Scotland. In particular, he believed strongly that disputes should be resolved through debate and negotiation, rather than war. A common language was crucial to such discussions.
Nowadays, most of us speak in English, but we have a wonderful heritage of writing, story telling and song in the Scots language, that used to be more commonly used by our fore bearers.
To that end, the Scots Verse competition recognises excellence among those who have taken the time and trouble to learn the Scots language and to use it to maximum effect. The Community Council present an annual cup and a medal to the winners in each of Primaries 1 to 6.
2013 Scots Verse Winners
2014 Scots Verse Winners
2015 Scots Verse Winners
2018 Scots Verse Winners
Each medal bears the Arms of the Community Council. Awarded by the Lord Lyon King of Arms in 1997, the Arms are the legal property of the Community Council and can only be used with our permission. By presenting these medals today, we acknowledge our respect for each of the winners. The cups are held for one year at a time and are named in memory of people who are important to the Community Council and to Burntisland as a whole.
Primary 1 – The Marshall Memorial Trophy
Jock Marshall was the first Chairman of the Community Council in 1978. He was one of a small band of 7 people who formed the original Community Council in Burntisland. Throughout his period of office he exercised great care to ensure that everyone who wanted to speak would be able to do so. He was courteous at all times but equally forthright when occasion demanded. It is fitting that the first trophy should reflect the first Chairman.
Primary 2 – The Macdonald Memorial Trophy
Margaret Macdonald was a long-serving Secretary and Vice Chair of the Community Council. Her attendance record at meetings was unparalleled. A former Policewoman, she was instrumental in ensuring excellent relations between the Community Council and Fife Constabulary. She was firm in seeking fairness for all, and being courteous in all of her dealings. She also in years past helped to judge the Scots Verse competition. Her diplomacy earned her great respect and this trophy is an excellent tribute to her skills.
Primary 3 – The MacDougall Memorial Trophy
John MacDougall represented Burntisland on Fife Council as an elected member and later became Leader of the Administration and also Provost of Fife. Born and bred in Burntisland, he moved away only in his later years when he became MP for Glenrothes. A strong supporter of an inclusive community, John excelled at bringing people together. One of his lasting legacies to the town was the Beacon leisure centre. He was a key player in negotiating land transfers and also finding the £3m needed to build the centre. He officially opened the present nursery in the grounds of Burntisland Primary School and was delighted when the opportunity arose to show the children his chain of office as Provost of Fife. This trophy continues his interest in supporting our young people.
Primary 4 – The Gilbertson Memorial Trophy
The Gilbertson family have played an important role in the community for generations. Christine Dewar represents the family today as a member of the Community Council, but her parents were both active in the life of the town. Margaret, for example, was also a member of the Community Council. Both Margaret and Christine are former winners of the Community Award. Christine is a strong supporter of Burntisland’s young people through the Youth Theatre Group, where the performers’ delivery is vital to their success.
Primary 5 – The Horn Memorial Trophy
Derek Horn was a long-service Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary of the Community Council, whilst his wife Betty was also a member for many years. Derek founded Burntisland Youth Theatre and first attended a meeting of the Community Council in that capacity. He wanted us to support an application to the Prince’s Trust for funding to buy stage lighting – and those same lights are still in use today. Later, he was persuaded to stand for election to the Community Council and served continuously as a member or office bearer. Skills in presentation and performance were the stuff of Derek’s life and it’s particularly appropriate that he should be commemorated through the presentation of this trophy.
Primary 6 – The Kerr Memorial Trophy
Douglas Kerr was the inspiration behind not only Burntisland Community Council but also the Scots Verse competition itself. He organised public meetings and actively sought out people who might be persuaded to help set up a Community Council in Burntisland. At the time, he was our elected member on the then Kirkcaldy District Council and fought very hard for the interests of Burntisland. He attended virtually every meeting of the Community Council during his period of office – and also for several years afterwards as a member of the public. Full of ideas and ingenuity, it was his proposal that we should mark the 700th anniversary of Alexander III’s death through a Scots Verse competition. So it’s entirely through his foresight that we are all here today, whether as members of the Community Council or as winners of the Scots Verse competition. He lived to the very grand age of 95 and throughout his time in Burntisland was never known to lose his temper or be rude to any person. Courteous and hard-working to the end, Douglas was an inspiration and an example to all of our young people today.
The people after whom the trophies have been named are a very mixed bunch. However, they all have one thing in common. They believed firmly in the value to the community of debate and discussion rather than conflict. They got results through respecting the opinions of others, without necessarily agreeing with them.