IRVINE pupils were presented with prizes after their annual verse-speaking efforts went ahead amid the global pandemic.

The Irvine Burns Club’s annual schools’ competition has been in place for at least the past 40 years.

Winners from Woodland PS were Katie McCubbin (P2) and Isla Hobson (P3) with Isobel Dunlop and Loula Boyd each winning in the P4-P7 section (as displayed by the school via Twitter) while winners from Glebe PS in the P5-P7 category were Lauren Wyllie and Hattie McClory.

David Burns, President of The Irvine Burns Club, thanked all entrants from Woodland and from Glebe with a special “Thank You” to the teachers and school staff who made this special effort.

Many have also used it as a stepping-stone to greater things with this local introduction not only to the works of Robert Burns and other Scottish writers but also as an opportunity to make their first appearance in front of an audience.

Unfortunately, the verse-speaking competition has been one of the events that has suffered from the disruption amid the pandemic but at least two schools – Glebe and Woodlands – have pulled out all the stops organising their own in-house competitions with support provided, albeit from a distance, by members of The Irvine Burns Club.

Bill McGregor, the Burns Club’s Education Director, said: “We contacted every local primary school inviting each to be involved but did so more in hope than in expectation. We were delighted at the reaction from each of the schools with their expressions of hope that the popular event could be resurrected for future years but were somewhat bowled over when two of the local schools asked for support in managing their own competitions internally.

“We were delighted at their initiative which speaks volumes for their enthusiasm but, at the same time, understood completely why different pressures and uncertainties caused by COVID-19 with local lockdowns prevented other schools from doing likewise. What has been most encouraging has been the obvious enthusiasm of all of the schools and the recognition by the children for what this annual competition brings to their school years. This has encouraged us to look at new routes and methods when we are going forward into the future.”

All winners received their awards prior to the schools breaking up but, unlike in previous years, members of the Irvine Burns Club dropped off the prizes outside the schools in line with COVID Restrictions and the presentations were made by Head Teachers in the schools rather than the Wellwood Burns Centre & Museum.