THE coronavirus pandemic did not stop residents of West Linton gathering virtually to mark Burns Night.

More than 160 people from 80 households are thought to have tuned in for a host of virtual events on Saturday (January 23), two days before the national celebration.

Set up by the Village Centre, people from the Borders – and further afield – toasted the Bard by watching 20 acts from their homes.

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Ian Reid, 57, who is a trustee for the centre, said: “It felt like a community event. It was great to see so many people from the village enjoying something together, even though we weren’t together.

“It was heartwarming to see some more of the isolated members of the community. They hadn’t realised how much they needed something like that.

“Some people were getting used to muting and unmuting themselves,” he joked. “That added to the fun of it.”

Following the success of the event, a virtual coffee morning is now in the pipeline.

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“The importance of the event was the community together,” added Mr Reid. “It was different to being together, there is no substitute with being in a crowd in person.

“But it brought a range of people that might not normally be the case, so there were some real positives.

“It was just people relaxing and enjoying themselves from the comfort and safety of their own homes.”

Mr Reid says children and adults “of all ages” joined the virtual event, with people attending from Manchester, Birmingham, Yorkshire, and “a couple from New York” – although he says that hasn’t been confirmed yet.

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The acts included poetry recitals and songs – with the youngest performer just seven years old.

Everyone involved in the virtual event took a break to enjoy the traditional Burns Night meal of haggis, neeps and tatties.

People were able to order their haggis from Peebles butcher Forsyths, to be collected from the Village Centre on the Saturday morning – with 75 haggises picked up.

Neeps could also be collected – provided by a local farmer.