The Visit of the Federation Chief to the Cape Town Caledonian Society- April 2014

Post date: May 14, 2014 2:19:7 PM

The Cape Town Caledonian Society was honored to be visited by the Federation Chief, Sandra Rankin during the week of 31st March 2014 until 6th April 2014. It was indeed an excited period of planning for weeks ahead of this visit, as we wanted to make her visit an absolutely memorable and special occasion.

The first of the activities planned, was for the Chief of the Society and his Lady President, Stuart and Jacinta Munro to accompany her and her host family- Jeanie Girvan on Monday 31st March to a Scottish Country Dancing Fundraiser evening, held at the Fish Hoek Anglican Church. The charity benefiting from this dance was, the Mountain Fire and Rescue for the area, and the theme was “Fire and Fynbos”.  On arrival we were all welcomed with open arms and to the sounds of the Scottish Country dancing music in the background, and a wonderful group of Scottish Country Dancers who already got stuck into the first dance, and in seconds of walking through the front door, the Federation Chief was into her dancing shoes and on the floor, enjoying each dance to the fullest. Various dances for the evening, chosen and well put together by the Teacher and person responsible for the leading of the Fish Hoek Scottish Country Dancing Group- Heather Hodgson. They meet on a Monday night at this venue, and all who are interested in visiting this group to share in some good dancing or kindred interaction should not hesitate to take advantage of this opportunity- contact Heather Hodgson directly or refer to our website or the links for her contact details.

On the Wednesday night, the council welcomed Sandra to an intimate evening of chat and snacks at the home of Councilor- Jane Mitchell, who opened her door to us with a warm welcome and a well laid out setting. We enjoyed a time to interact with Sandra, ask questions, regarding Society matters and other. We thank Jane for hosting Sandra for the night in her home, and the next morning it was back on the road with Stuart and Jacinta in an out and about Crafting exploration of Cape Town, and then we delivered the Fed Chief safely to her host for the next few days, Peter and Anne Mcleod.

On the Friday afternoon, 4th April 2014, Stuart, Jacinta and Sandra, by kind invitation of the British High Commissioner, and the Commander Sarah West of the HMS Portland, boarded the ship as it docked in the V&A Waterfront, and we had a splendid opportunity to wear the tartan and promote the Society amongst all 150 guests on board and 180 Crew. There was a great interest in the tartan and the Caledonian activities and many contact cards were swopped. The Fed Chief was keen to try all things new, and did not hesitate, whilst being part of a tour through the ship, when the crew in charge of the Arms on-board, invited anyone to have a photo taken with the weapons, Sandra was first in the queue.  We had an opportunity to ask questions and learnt a lot on how the HMS Ships were involved in protecting the shoreline en-route, how their sister HMS ship was helping to search for the missing Malaysian airplane, and how  well equipped they are to fight off pirates off the east coast of Africa and much more. Not forgetting their acts of charities at ports where-ever they stopped off.

The stop-over in the designated Ports of the HMS ships, was to allow for refueling, maintenance work, and for replenishment of supplies. We are indeed happy to have been granted this opportunity to be included in the reception on board and to fly the flag for the Caledonian Society when-ever we can, even on board a ship.

The Saturday 5th April,  A group of regular society members, with invited guests from our sister Caledonian Society- Pinelands, were Past Provincial Chieftain and past Chief Gordan and Mary Wallace, standing in for Chief and Lady President Eddie and Anne Stevenson while they are in Scotland. We gathered in the Tai Ping Chinese restaurant for a luncheon to host the official welcome of the Federation Chief to our society. We were privileged to have the Hon Piper, Peter Odendaal pipe the dignitaries into the luncheon.  A festive Easter Bonnet Parade (of which 95% of the gathering) all partook in the fun of making their Easter bonnets and taking part in the competition. The winners were chosen by the 2 judges, Trish Meyer and Sheila Scott. The winners were 2nd prize to Kim Mills, 3rd Prize to Gordon Wallace, and 1st prize to Caireen Alston. An excellent meal was served, and a raffle that was well supported was coordinated by Kim Mills. This was also a special occasion for Vickie Mackenzie who celebrated her birthday the same day, Peter Odendaal 3 days earlier, and Sandra Rankin the following Wednesday- and together we all sang happy Birthday to each one of them. Easter Egg marshmallows greeted each person at their seat and place setting, and the food served was absolutely delicious- well done to Colin and Pam Wing and their staff. The Fed Chief addressed all with words of encouragement and welcome and greetings from Federation. We also presented to her a gift on behalf of our Society to always remember her visit to us, a hand-crafted decoupage plate done by Nicky Ross, and a stunning set of travelling cosmetic bags set, with pictures of Scotty dogs on it, and a framed certificate of honor with a message from the society to her on it, for her to remember us in a very special way.

Straight after the luncheon, a group of 9 ladies in total (members and a friend of the society), gathered in the home of the Chief and Lady President- Stuart and Jacinta Munro, to embark on an afternoon of crafting. The choice was of 8 various items to try their hand at, special tools and embossing machines were on hand, and the tutors were Jacinta and Marie, who encouraged all to be as creative with the materials available. Lots of fun was had by all, finished and part-finished items were taken home, to be shown off with pride-well done to all the ladies who attended and for getting into the spirit of the afternoon! Each received goody bags filled with bits and bobs of craft materials to continue the inspiration at home (in a pizza box- yes they do serve other purposes other than to travel home with a delicious pizza- they perfectly store paper and crafting goodies). We even had our Fed Chief show us how to make beautiful roses and a desire to host more of these kind of afternoons was expressed by some of those present. The afternoon ended in time for the Chief Stuart Munro, assisted by Vidius Archer, who with assistants, cooked a meal ahead of time for the ladies, and arrived from their hide-out (away from the ladies) to serve us a delicious , wearing  aprons, and  doing the dishes for us too. Many thanks to the “Chefs”, your efforts to ensure we were not in the kitchen, but crafting to our hearts content was much appreciated.

On the Sunday morning (6th April), we gathered at the Mossop Hall Methodist Church, in little Mowbray to celebrate the Tartan Day service, it being Tartan Day all around the world on this date. A representation of Pipes and Drums, enhanced our service and made it really special. The group made up of our Hon Piper Peter Odendaal, accompanied by Piper Grant Alexander and his youngest daughter-Jenna (Who is just 11 years old), and Piper Caireen Alston, and on the side drum- Beth Odendaal.

The church was decorated with Tartan Clothes and the Saltire Flag draped the altar, and beautifully prepared church pew leaflets beautifully laid out to describe what Tartan day was all about, it also contained the words to the famous “Highland Cathedral” in the various dialects, “Amazing Grace” and “Flower of Scotland”. Members and Friends wore the Tartan, in support of Tartan Day. All the Caledonian Members, led by the Chief and Lady President, Federation, Chieftains were piped into the church and to their seats. The minister Rev Mark Stephenson, was piped in and took his place in the front of the congregation to welcome all the Caledonians present. He called various representatives up, including Sandra Rankin and asked them various questions on the Tartan, Federation, and this was very special to all those present. Jenna, the youngest Piper present (or at any of our functions), was awarded a Certificate to have as a memento of her Piping at the Tartan Day Service 2014. She was taken by full surprise, and we appreciate and want to encourage all young people to embrace the traditions handed to us, and to follow their dreams. Jenna’s dream is to play the Pipes, and they are full adult size Pipes. If you see the photographs on the website and in the newsletter you will see them playing beautifully before, during and after the service.  Stuart Munro led a Blessing of the Tartans during the service and offered a vote of thanks to all present during the service. Tea and cake was shared amongst all present after the service.

Indeed, lots of smaller activities were planned by our society to host the Fed Chief’s visit, a little bit of dancing, a cocktail evening, on board the HMS Portland, a luncheon, a craft afternoon and supper and a Tartan Day service. A little bit of the life of the Cape Town Caledonian Society as it lives in the heart of Cape Town - alive and well  and always striving to bring newness, spontaneity, a hand of friendship to all we meet.

We hope that the message for all of us given by the Federation Chief, Sandra Rankin, of togetherness, support, to keep moving forward and the welcome of new members and willing voices is what we will continue to reflect upon as we said our farewells to her. Until we meet again Sandra, at Congress, in East London, in Cape Town, when-ever, where-ever, we wish you much joy as you continue your year of office.

Jacinta Munro

Lady President of the Cape Town Caledonian Society

31st March until 6th April 2014