The 15th annual Budapest Burns Supper, held at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest on 28 January 2012, raised almost HUF 5 million for children’s hospitals in Hungary. The Robert Burns International Foundation, which organises the event and oversees distribution of the money, put the figure raised on the night at HUF 4.8 million.
“Each year the Foundation aims to support five hospital projects each with HUF 1 million from the Burns Supper itself, which we will be able to do as we have a surplus in hand from previous years.”
The Burns Supper is a traditional Caledonian event staged in Scottish communities across the world, which recalls the words and deeds of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet. A key part is the Immortal Memory, an address about the man, his humanity and his poetry. This year the Budapest Burns Supper broke somewhat with tradition, but surely in a way Burns himself, a lover of life and children, would have appreciated. So instead of fine words, there were three short musical performances, each given by a young child who had recovered from serious illness thanks, in part, to money raised by previous Budapest suppers.
Prof Dr György Fekete, the RBIF’s medical advisor, explained to the roughly 200 guests (who each made a donation of HUF 25,000 for their seat), exactly what a difference the fundraising event has made. “The first child was saved [using equipment bought with Burns Supper money] 15 years ago and is now 15 years old. I hope we can all be here together in the coming years and can celebrate the 30th anniversary, when this ‘child’ will be already 30 years old!”
He added that, “The charity of the Scottish community in Hungary has such a valuable impact even for the children themselves.” Parents, patients and hospital staff know and appreciate the generous fundraising of the Burns Supper, he said.
Fekete is the former Director of the II Paediatric Department of Semmelweis University in Budapest, which has received much support from the Burns Supper through the years. In his role as medical adviser to the RBIF, he helps sift through the many hospital applications for support to find and select the most appropriate and deserving projects.
Jock MacKenzie, who chairs the curatorium that oversees the RBIF’s activities, spoke of his surprise and pride that the Supper had been running for 15 years, and thanked guests for their continued support, both for it and the children they helped treat. “I’d simply like to say thank you for coming, and for keeping coming,” he said.