ALMOST 200 guests attended the 200th anniversary dinner of Largs Thistle Curling Club at Seamill Hydro on Friday, February 15.

President Jim Welsh welcomed the gathering to the bi-centenary occasion which attracted representatives of kindred clubs, Gourock, Auchenhames, Ardrossan Castle, Millport, Port Glasgow, Between The Sheets and Stair.

Mr Welsh said that when Largs Thistle Curling Club was founded in 1813 it was the year that Jane Austen's 'Pride And Prejudice' was published, and David Livingstone was born.

The club were still grateful to Dr John Cairnie, a surgeon, who bought land at Broomfields, Largs and built a house called Curlinghall. Cairnie created the first artificial curling pond and helped to found the Royal Caledonian Curling Club of which he was the first president.

Mr Welsh added that the Largs club had been blessed with committed members such as former president Alex Simpson who owned the Largs & Millport News, and builders' merchant Hugh McNish.

Now, thanks to generous sponsorship, the club were launching a project to develop the sport with, for example, coaching lessons for Largs Academy pupils.

Guest speaker, Robin Copeland of Balerno spoke of his long association with Largs where the family lived in Acre Avenue and he developed a love for Clyde steamers.

He pointed out that John Cairnie was a one-armed surgeon who moved to the town in 1810 after marrying Agnes Galbraith. He described Largs as "the Montpellier of the north." In minutes that Cairnie kept he referred on one occasion to Largs sailing to Millport to play islanders whose curling stones were triangular.

Mr Copeland said: "Cairnie was an immense character in curling and he decided there was a need for a mother club with a set of rules. He chaired a meeting in 1838 to form the Royal Caledonian Club. He died in 1844 but Largs was the epicentre of the curling world." The speaker praised Largs for trying to bring youngsters into the sport because it could also attract their parents. He added that it was a great sport which could be played at any standard.

Mr Welsh led the toast to the Royal Caledonian Club.

In reply, Mr Bill Duncan, president of the RCCC said that he had stepped into the shoes of John Cairnie. In their own 175th anniversary year the national body had created a certificate of recognition and the first one was handed over to Largs to mark their 200th year.

Further presentations were made when long-serving former presidents John Menzies and Alan Cameron received honorary memberships from the club. Mr Welsh said they had supported the club through "thick and thin." After dinner speaker was Bert Thomson, former Scottish Wit of the Year, who provided excellent stand-up comedy.