St Ninian’s Men’s Group


The Men’s Group meets around four times a year in the Gordon Memorial Hall to enjoy convivial company and an excellent dinner provided by outside caterers. The group has been up and running for several years now. I believe the first chair was Aidan Colman. The group is ecumenical, which is one of its biggest strengths, and anyone who would like to come along and join us will be made more than welcome.

We are one of the last remaining bastions of “male only” gatherings. The exception to this is Mothering Sunday when the ladies are invited to join us for luncheon.

I took over from David Steward late in 2011.  His last words to me were, “Ian, I think you will make an excellent Chairman” and that was that! I sincerely hope I don’t let him or anyone else down. We all wish David all the best in his new home in Crowborough way down south.

He left me with the speaker for our January meeting, Bob Lindsay, who gave an excellent talk on life as a military environmental health officer. We sometimes call on one of our members to give a short talk, with prior warning, on his chosen subject.

Anyone wishing to join our happy band can contact me on: or 01556 505910.

Ian Mather


On Monday 16th February 2015, we had a respectable turnout of 26 members including some new faces from Dalbeattie. As usual we had a three-course meal provided by Brian and Shirley Haining from the Scottish Pantry.

Members chatting with Alasdair (R) before the supper

Members chatting with Alasdair (R) before the supper

Our speaker at the supper was Mr Alasdair Gair, whose talk was entitled, “From Lochmaben to Dragon’s Mouth – My Experience Racing Yachts.” Alasdair began his talk by informing us that his mother was the one who instigated it by telling him he had to get out more and get a hobby! This was when Alasdair started to get involved in yachting and then going into competitive racing. From then on, wherever Alasdair went he ended up on some yacht racing team. Also, on one occasion, when he was yachting in Trinidad and Tobago, he rescued a damsel in distress – and that lady became his wife!

Throughout the talk Alasdair gave us some real “Boy’s Own” adventures stories and all the members had an enjoyable evening. Also a lot of interesting questions were asked.

Our next supper will be on Monday 1st June, when our speaker will be Mr Peter Westwood, local author of “A Pictorial History and Reminiscences of Castle Douglas from 1792”.

Anyone who is interested in joining us should contact Ian Mather or Steven Dill on (01556) 505910; e-mail

On Monday evening, 15th September 2014, 24 members sat down to our usual three-course meal, which was enjoyed by all.


Our after-dinner speaker was Mr Bob Laidlaw, who gave a talk entitled “Christmas Truce 1914”, with lots of interesting information on how tough life was for those poor guys a hundred years ago and how, on Christmas Day, both sides sang Christmas carols and exchanged gifts, even putting up Christmas trees in the trenches. They also engaged in a football match (but there were far more than eleven on each side).

The Rector (David Bayne) suggested we use the new lectern, which had been donated in memory of Ronnie MacKenzie, a previous member of St Ninian’s Men’s Group.

Our next Men’s Group Supper will be held in the Gordon Memorial Hall on 21st February 2015 6.30 for 7.00pm at which our speaker will be Mr Alistair Gair. The topic is unknown at present, but I am sure he will pull something out on the night.  Further details from Mr Ian Mather (Tel 01556 505910;  email: )

On Monday 16 June at our Men’s Supper the speaker was Dr Jim Duck who gave a talk entitled “African Adventure”. He gave a wonderful presentation to illustrate what he, Judi, and the other people who had gone with them to Africa, had been doing to help improve the way of life, in many ways, for the local people.

Dr Jim Duck speaking to the group

Dr Jim Duck speaking to the group

This was followed by questions and answers which were many and varied. The power point presentation was very colourful and informative. The meal which everyone really enjoyed was, as usual, provided by the Scottish Pantry.

Ian Mather

On Monday 17 February 2014, St Ninian’s Men’s Group met for a lovely meal provided by Haining Catering which was enjoyed by all. After supper our speaker MP Russell Brown spoke on his time so far in Parliament: how he became interested in politics, and about some of the overseas charities he has been involved in over the years. He said that it had opened his eyes to how much poverty there is in the world; also how many kids are into drugs and have no sense of purpose in life. We were all very moved by how much Russell has experienced so far as an MP and listening to how he has met so many lovely people in these countries and he told us that he still gets pictures and cards from some of the kids he has visited.

MP Russell Brown (centre), Canon David Main (left), Tony Davis (right); also in background Andrew Low

MP Russell Brown (centre), Canon David Main (left), Tony Davis (right); also in background Andrew Low

Afterwards there were many questions and answers. I, as well as others (I’m sure) saw Russell in a new light, and I have worked with him over the years on raising funds for various charities. I thanked him for a wonderful night.

Ian Mather

On Monday 19th August 2013, the Men’s Group met for a most enjoyable meal followed by an interesting and informative talk and presentation by Mr Brian Corr, the Head Gardener at Threave Estate (National Trust for Scotland), which was well -received by members and generated a lot of questions.

The Group await their supper, with speaker Brian Corr at the head of the table

On Monday 13 May 2013, 24 of our members sat down to an excellent 3-course meal which had an Italian theme to it.

Our speaker was Robert Thompson, who gave us a most informative talk about radio operating systems and how they changed in his 40 years’ service on Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships. I used to think that SOS was the only standard distress call but it turns out that CQDC (‘Come quick distress’) is an alternative. Another interesting fact is that it is faster to send a message in Morse code than a text message!

Ian Mather

Sunday 10 March 2013: the Mothering Sunday Lunch at the Kings Arms

On Monday 21 January 2013  we had 30 members who braved the wintry weather to get to the supper and they all sat down to a lovely three-course meal provided by Haining Catering.

It was our privilege to welcome the Lord Lieutenant of the Stewartry, Sir Malcolm Ross, who gave us an informative talk on his time in the Royal Household dating back to when he was first approached to join the staff. He shared with us some very amusing stories about his time working for the Queen and Royal Family.

Sir Malcolm (R, facing camera) chatting to members of the group

On Monday 17th September 2012 our speaker was Dr Patrick Little, a Senior Research Fellow at the History of Parliament Trust in London. His topic was ‘Who threw the stool?’ about the Prayer Book Riots of 1637.

On Monday 11thJune,  27 members attended our Supper – a good turnout considering that some of our regulars were unable to be present for various reasons. We had an excellent meal as usual, supplied and served by Brian Haining. His menus keep getting better!

All seated and ready to be served!

Our speaker was Douglas Whitelaw, the last ever Provost of Castle Douglas, who gave us a very informative talk about his role as Provost, and the last one at that. He then went on to take questions, of which there were many. It was a most enjoyable evening, everyone feeling that they had learned something that they didn’t know before.

A small group with Douglas Whitelaw, (3rd from R) and Chair Ian Mather (R)

Monday 16th January 2012 – Guest Speaker Mr Robert Lindsay

We had a good turnout of 33 men for the  supper with an excellent meal, as usual provided by Brian Haining from The Scottish Pantry. Our speaker was Bob Lindsay, who took us on a global “Walk Down Memory Lane with a Military Environmental Health Officer”. This was an interesting talk and powerpoint presentation which was well received by all.

Our next meal is on Mothering Sunday, 18th March, at 12.30pm in the Hall. There will be a carvery and pudding at £15 per head. To make the carvery viable we need a minimum of 50 people so a list will be put up on the notice board in the passage very soon. This is open to the members of the congregation and people in the local community. If you are interested in going you can phone Mr Ian Mather on (01556) 505910 or e-mail him on

Monday 12th September 2011 – Guest Speaker Sir Norman Arthur.
Our gathering held on Monday 12 September was an excellent occasion with our guest speaker Sir Norman Arthur giving a thoughtful and very well received after dinner talk to a full house of thirty. Sir Norman chose a number of important landmarks during his life giving a short resumé on each, which ranged from his time in command at Edinburgh Castle, the exhilaration of riding to hounds (without wishing to cause any distress on the whole question of “blood sports”) and ending with some well chosen words on his Christian faith. The meal provided by Brian Haining was, as usual, excellent and we all look forward to the next dinner scheduled for 16th January 2012.

Monday 17th January 2011

The Rt Hon Alex Fergusson, MSP

Some of the assembled company

We had a grand turn out of 33 at our dinner on Monday evening 17th January. Our guest speaker was the Rt Hon Alex Fergusson, our MSP and the Presiding Officer for the Scottish Parliament. As you would expect he gave an excellent talk about his time in Parliament, from first being elected as a list MSP, (which in effect meant he had actually lost the election locally, but yet finished up representing the South of Scotland), through the time of the following election when he had a majority of 99 – and the night before he had been looking down the situation vacant column in the paper with more than a keen interest! – to his current majority of well over 3000.

He then told us about his role as the Presiding Officer, which he viewed as four very interesting years and a time of great privilege. He then took a number of well directed questions, after which we let him get up to Edinburgh in time to “open up the shop” the next morning.

Brian Haining and his family once again gave us a very good meal, and we all went home well satisfied.

David Steward

Monday 20th September 2010
The Men’s Group met on Monday 20th September when 22 of us sat down in the Gordon Memorial Hall for our usual excellent dinner provided by Brian Haining Caterers. Our numbers included two guests, one of whom was coming back for a second time. Commander Clem Gault RNR (that’s right – our very own Clem) gave a fascinating talk on his time serving on ‘mine hunters’ and, in particular, of one amazing journey around the north of Scotland, starting at Edinburgh and ending at Faslane.

Our next gathering will be on Monday 17th January 2011 when we will be privileged to welcome the Rt Hon Alex Fergusson MSP as our speaker.

Monday 7th June 2010

Barry Smart talks to the Group

Barry Smart talks to the Group

The Men’s Group assembled in the Gordon Memorial Hall on Monday 7th June for their occasional dinner. There was a very good turnout of 27, which included five guests and three new or returning members. Our gathering was well fed by our usual caterer, Brian Haining, who also runs the Scottish Pantry in the town. Afterwards we were treated to ‘A Trip Down Memory Lane’ by Barry Smart, on some of the most interesting ‘nuggets’ of the history of the town and buildings, including a short exposé on the Douglas Family Mausoleum at Mid Kelton. This was based on the short history written by Leslie Scarborough, before he disappeared down south to join his family.

In a change to the advertised date, our next dinner will be on Monday 20th September, 6.30 for 7.00pm, not 13th September.

David Steward

Sunday 14th March – Mothering Sunday
The congregation enjoyed a most pleasant occasion on Mothering Sunday celebrating with a luncheon in the hall when 51 of us sat down to an excellent carvery provided by Brian Haining and his team. During coffee John Elvidge entertained us with a short dissertation.

David Steward

Meeting on 18th January 2010


The St Ninian’s Men’s Group gathered on 18th January in the Gordon Memorial Hall for what turned out to be a record attendance of 28 which included six guests. The meal was, as usual, excellent and we were treated to a most informative talk by Alan Stewart on Organic Gardening.

Our next meeting will be on 14th March, Mothering Sunday, when those attending are invited to bring along their wives/partners for a luncheon at around 1.00pm, which will follow the Sunday service.

David Steward

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We held our latest dinner in the Gordon Memorial Hall on Monday 28 September. It was attended by 19, drawn from other congregations within the town as well as our own, making it a truly ecumenical occasion. Brian Haining of The Scottish Pantry provided an excellent meal, which was followed by a most informative talk given by Bill Millar on his experiences as an electrical engineer working, in those far off days, for the GPO. His work took him all over Scotland including the Highlands and Islands, and he kept our interest with events in Barra and South Uist, amongst many other locations, not to mention the CalMac ferries.