Annual General Meeting

Annual General Meeting of the Club, to be held remotely on Thursday, 4 June 2020


By letter dated 18 May 2020, members were invited to participate in the Club’s AGM for 2020 by e-mail or by post, as, due to the threat of infection by the Corona 19 Virus, a physical meeting of members is currently not to be advised and may even be unlawful. The letter itself was sent as an e-mail attachment to those members for whom the Club has an e-mail address. To the other members, the letter was sent by post.

  • 1. The number of responses to the invitation to participate in the AGM to be recorded by the Hon. Secretary.
  • 2. The Minutes of the previous AGM of 16 May 2019 to be approved.
  • 3. The Chairman’s report on the past year’s events (See note A below)
  • 5. The proposed election and re-election of the following Office Bearers to be approved:

(i) Dr. Michael Wood as Hon. Secretary, and

(ii) Mr. Lee Simpson as Hon. Treasurer and Events Convener.

  • 6. Council:

(i) The resignation from the Council of Lt. Cdr. Dairmid Gunn OBE and Martin Philip to be noted;
(ii) The proposed election of Louise Gardiner as a member of the Council to be approved;
(iii) The proposed election of Dr. Lucy Wood as a member of the Council to be approved; Lucy who, of course, cannot be introduced in person at this ‘virtual’ AGM, wrote her PhD on Sir Walter Scott and his involvement with antiquarianism; she has since worked at both the National Library of Scotland and Abbotsford House and she is currently the Co-ordinator of the Adult Learning Programme at the Palace of Holyroodhouse; and
(iv) The proposed re-election of the remaining members of the Council to be approved.

  • 7. (i) The Accounts for the year ended 31 December 2019 to be approved (See note B below).  and    

(ii) The re-purposing of the Essay Prize Fund, and its re-naming as the Public Lecture Fund, to be approved. 

  • 8. It is intended to hold the following Events, if possible in the circumstances, and members will be updated in due course:

(i) the 2020 Lunchtime Colloquium on Ivanhoe on Saturday, 15 August 2020, and
(ii) the 111th Annual Dinner in 2021, marking the 250th Anniversary of the Birth of Sir Walter Scott on Thursday, 6 May 2021.

  • 9. Proposed Date of the next AGM: Thursday, 3 June 2021, at 7pm

NOTE A: Chair’s report to The Edinburgh Sir Walter Scott Club 2020

I regret immensely that we are obliged to meet in this restricted way, but thanks to Louise and Lee, we can still consult each other and make effective decisions.

Other than the Covid-19 virus, it has been a good year and attendance has increased at our evening sessions in the New Club.

On the 17th August we had an excellent colloquium on The Bride of Lammermuir led by Professor Peter Garside and Eileen Dunlop. On the 19th September Donald Smith (the director of The Scottish Storytelling Centre) spoke about “Scott: Our Convivial Host”. On 7th November, Kathy Crawford Hay spoke to a particularly large audience about “Scotland’s Hidden Treasure: The remarkable story of the oldest Royal Regalia in Britain”. On the 17th October, Professor John W Cairns (at our joint lecture with the University of Edinburgh’s English Department) spoke in The Advocates’ Library about “Adam Smith, Henry Dundas and the Legal Education of Sir Walter Scott”. On the same evening Amy McFall was announced as the winner of the Scottish Literary Studies Medal for 2019. On the 15th March, Dr Margaret Connolly cast light on one of Abbotsford’s most unusual possessions in “A Very Curious Collection: The Abbotsford Book of Deeds”. Most unfortunately, Ray Perman was unable to give his talk on the 7th April on “The Financial Ruin of Sir Walter Scott – and how he got out of it” but we hope that he may be able to give it on another occasion. On the 7th May we should have been able to enjoy our 111th Annual Dinner and listen to our president, Professor Murray Pittock. As you know, this was prevented by the Coronavirus, and we hope that Professor Pittock will speak at our 112th Annual Dinner in 2022. Lillian Elliot would have spoken on the 4th June after our AGM, and sadly, her talk is also postponed.

In a simple and moving ceremony, Alasdair Hutton laid a wreath at the grave of Sir Walter Scott at Dryburgh Abbey on the 21st September. We are all most grateful to him.

Lt Cdr Dairmid Gunn OBE has decided to retire from the Council. One of the longest serving and most faithful members of the Club, he has been a member of the Council since 1988, and served as chairman 1999-2002, and, to the best of my knowledge, has addressed the Club on 10 occasions!

Martin Philip, who has been a member of the Council since 2009, has also decided to resign. He once spoke to the Club on James Robertson and Walter Scott and performed as The Sorries in 2017.

We note with much sadness the deaths of Sir Eric Anderson KT and of Dr Susan Carpenter.

Sir Eric died on 22nd April 2020 and had been president of the Club in 1980. He was a leading scholar of Sir Walter Scott and was the editor of The Journal of Sir Walter Scott (first published by Oxford University Press in 1972 and later by Canongate in 1998).

With characteristic efficiency, Lee has given us a link to Sir Eric reading from Walter Scott. 

Dr Susan Carpenter died after a short illness on 19th January 2020 and many of us were able to attend a memorial service for her on the 14th February at the Canongate Church.

Louise Gardiner has decided to step down from the post of Honorary Secretary after the AGM. She joined the Council and became the Club’s Hon Secretary in 2014. All of us are immensely grateful to Louise. As the current chair, I can say that she has been an absolutely exemplary Hon Secretary, and extremely accurate and organised and knows every detail of the Club’s work. Happily, she is willing to remain a member of the Council.Thank you very much, Louise.

Dr Michael Wood has very kindly agreed to fill the post of Honorary Secretary.  Michael has served on the Club's Council for this past year and is a former academic at the University of Edinburgh; amongst other things, at present he is finishing up the research for his second book, Walter Scott and German Drama, which will appear with Palgrave Macmillan in the none too distant future.

Finally, let me note what is obvious to everyone: each member of the Club is so much indebted to our Treasurer and Event Organiser Lee Simpson who gives such tireless and astonishing support. Lee, thank you from all of us, and quite apart from everything else you do for us, your website is a wonderful resource and very greatly appreciated as we all suffer under house arrest.

Finally, there are tentative plans for a 250th anniversary service in St Giles Cathedral on Friday 25 June 2021.  This is being organised by Sir Angus Grossart (not by us) but it is worth noting the date and I’ll give more details once arrangements have been finalised.   

With every good wish to all of you, and much looking forward to the next time we can meet in person

Iain Torrance

NOTE B: Report on the Accounts by Lee Simpson 

Copies of Accounts: 

Receipts and Payments 

Statement of Balances 

The accounts have been certified by The Very Rev Canon Allan Maclean of Dochgarroch. Signed versions are now available above.  

We had a excellent year financially in 2019. 

New members have increased our subscription income by £200.  The "Bring a guest for free" initiative is working. 

Vernon Anderson still gives us an annual donation of £120, to which we are very appreciative. The other £50 donation was from Ian Davitt who couldn't attend the rescheduled Annual Dinner. 

The Annual Dinner made a loss of £249, but that was due to speakers expenses. 

Lectures made a profit of £541 simply because all of the speakers declined expenses.    

Postage and Stationery costs were a little higher last year.. .£40 of that was used to print special postcards to commemorate our 125th Anniversary. 

So as to avoid confusion I have shown the sale of the Minute Books* as an item in the General Fund Statement of Balances. This added an additional £1000 to our funds last year. These had been sitting in my garage for some time and are now safely stored with the National Library of Scotland. 

Also in the Statement of Balances I have now shown the Kensal Green fund separately.   

Our General Reserves sit at £8,606 (and a further £2314 is held for the KG fund)

The value of our Assets decreased slightly as we have now given away all of the Club ties to Speakers. 

With regards the "Essay Prize Fund"  I am asking members approve of the re-purposing of fund at the AGM. OSCR have accepted the renaming of the fund to "The Public Lecture Fund"- This is so that we can sponsor a Jane Millgate Memorial Lecture at the Triennial International Scott Conference - starting from 2021 with a donation of up to £500 towards the speakers expenses. Also, we will use the fund to offer upto £150 to other public events in Edinburgh that are about Sir Walter Scott.  The balance of that fund sits at £4851

*Council Minute Books

They contain signatures of almost all past Presidents including: Stanley Baldwin, Harold Macmillan, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, C.S.Lewis, Ludovic Kennedy, Lord Tweedsmuir and Magnus Magnusson 

Book from 1894-1958 View it here: 1894 Minute Book

Book from 1958-1986 View it here: 1958 Minute Book .


Overall, 22 members responded to the virtual AGM by midnight of 4 June 2020. The items were met with unanimous approval.