A NEW generation of performers have marked a milestone in Burns history in Inverclyde.

The local edition of the Burns Federation contest for schools celebrated its 30th anniversary at the Beacon Arts Centre on Tuesday.

Around 150 bonnie lads and lassies took part in recitation, singing, instrumental and bag piping categories.

Isabel Lind, OBE, one of the organisers, said: “It was lovely and there was a great buzz about the place. The Beacon is a fantastic venue and we are very grateful to the education department for allowing us to use it. 

“Around 130 pupils took part and it was the first time secondary schools were involved.”

Esteemed elocution teacher Etta Gavin, still inspiring youngsters at the age of 91, helped 10-year-old Owen Doyle to prepare for his recitation of Scots Wha Hae.

His proud mum Elaine said: “Owen has been going to Miss Gavin since he was four and still visits her even though she’s not teaching — she prepped him for the competition.”

Mrs Lind said: “I think that it is wonderful a teacher that is almost 92 is making a contribution to the Burns competition.”

During the showcase there was a nod to past successes with an exhibition looking back at previous winners.

The day was rounded off with a free concert with previous local and national prize winners attending as special guests.

Jim Donnelly, president of Greenock Burns Club, said: “The 30th anniversary is a great occasion for us. The Burns Club has a great reputation nationally and especially for recitation.

We pride ourselves in that reputation and the committee work their socks off to ensure that everything runs smoothly and is organised properly.

“The standards are very high and pupils are a credit to their schools and their tutors.”

The winners from this year’s event will go forward to the national finals, which take place in St Athanasius Primary School in Carluke on April 22.