The Ferenc Puskás – Sir Alex Ferguson Sponsor of the Year Trophy goes to the company judged to have made the most significant contribution to the work of the Robert Burns International Foundation during the course of the previous year.

Stewart Miller, a sports fan from Argyll, Scotland, had been so moved by the death of the legendary Hungarian footballer Ferenc Puskás that he wanted to present something to the Galloping Major’s widow, Erzsébet, in honour of the great man. In 2006 he commissioned a Scottish artist to fashion a copper football.

Miller wrote to the Hungarian embassy in London outlining his plans, and details eventually came to the attention of our very own Zoltán Magyar, the Robert Burns International Foundation Founder, President of the Hungarian-Scottish Society and a man long involved with Hungarian football.

It was Magyar who suggested that, rather than sit in a trophy cabinet somewhere, the piece of art be given a larger, more rewarding profile; Mrs Puskás agreed that it could be used as an annual sponsor’s award. In 2007, Sir Alex Ferguson became the Honorary President of the RBIF. Since his daytime job as manager of Manchester United Football Club tends to keep him fully occupied on weekends in January, it was decided he would make a presentation of the award at United’s ground, the Theatre of Dreams, just before kick-off at a home Premier League game.

Previous winners of the trophy are Tesco Global Áruházak Zrt (2011), Vodafone Hungary (2010), Diageo Hungary Ltd (2009), Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc (2008), and the Corinthia Hotel Budapest (then the Corinthia Grand Hotel Royal), which won the inaugural title in 2007 for its continued support as host and co-organiser of the Burns Supper.

by Robin Marshall 

I’m Mike Kelly and this year I’m part of the drive by the Robert Burns International Foundation (RBIF) to raise HUF 10,000,000. This money will provide a special bus for future Hungarian paralympians and the London Olympics is providing the perfect backdrop.

This, in brief, has been my story up to now.
I’ve been rasing money for cancer research for six years. For six years I have been asking friends, neighbours and often near strangers to sponsor me. I promise to train hard and complete an extremely demanding 42.2 Km run. They promise to donate 10, 20, 50 pounds. Whatever it is they can spare.

Trust is hugely important – that I will keep my word. That I will train and complete the run to the very best of my ability. And, crucially, that the organisation for whom the money is being raised is beyond reproach and ploughs the money into exactly what it says it will. The integrity of the organisation is sacrosanct. The RBIF, then, is the perfect organisation to work with! Their record speaks for itself and I’m proud to be part of the team organising this year’s amazing event.

Up till now it’s gone something like this.
’I’m going to run 42.2 kilometers. Please give me a little money which will help save lives, the lives of children and adults alike, potentially for years and years to come. I’ll do the hard bit, the miles and miles of training and the big run itself, you make a contribution. Please?’

’Umm,yes, ok! Put me down for x pounds please.’ And that’s it. I’m off. The first donation, or promise of a donation, and the adrenalin is flowing. The will to train is there in my thinking, in my heart and soul. Another long road ahead but so much good to be achieved. The training begins. This is easy. A few kilometres here and there. Then the bigger distances – not so easy. Aches and pains in places you’d almost forgotten about. The calves, the shins, the hamstrings. Then a turning point. I’m fitter, much fitter than I was a few weeks ago. I can up the pace, go for longer.
Then the next big step. A half marathon on a Sunday morning when it’s minus 5 outside. ’Do I really want to do this? It’s so warm and snug under these blankets!’ Yes I do, because ten people have already made pledges to the cause. I have given them my word. I have given the charity my word. Up you get!

And so it goes on for weeks and months. Till the big run. All the training has been done. So much will come down to how I’m feeling on the day. We’re off! Thousands of people running, even more to cheer us on. The first few kilometres are easy, relaxed, soaking up the atmosphere. The odd wave and high fiving the hands of smiling kids along the route.

At 15 kilometres I feel it a little but all going to plan, a good strong steady pace. Then the half-way point. Psychologically an important landmark. I’m a bit concerned, I shouldn’t really be feeling discomfort at this stage but I know from experience, I remind myself, that all big runs have their ’moments’. See it through. Nice deep breaths. ’You’ve done the training. It will pass.’ And, for a while, it does.
At 25 kilometres I’m not so bad again, I can do this. I spot a few people I know. That’s a boost. Perfect timing.
But at 30 kilometres it’s starting to hurt again. A different kind of hurt to earlier. This is becoming hard, I’m really having to dig in but there’s still 12 kilometres to go! Dread and fear slowly rising.

At 34 kilometres – ’Why am I doing this again?!’ By now every step is taking so much will power. So, why?
Then the answer surges through you and gives you the extra something that no amount of training can give you.
This IS saving lives! Me finishing WILL help poeple who won’t otherwise be helped. I have met the doctors face to face and they have thanked me, have told me that without the money raised by me running and you donating their research and subsequent breakthroughs simply wouldn’t be possible. I’ve seen the gratitude in their eyes. They come to the after race meet just to say thanks and talk about their work. Their groundbreaking, incredble work. I’ve just a run a marathon yet I feel so humbled.

Why? Because I want my darling sister Claire to live. I want her to survive cancer, I need her to live, my brother needs her to live, her beautiful young family and husband need her to live, our mother needs her to live. Will my running these last few agonising kilometres help her? I must believe that, I do believe that, and not only Claire but thousands of others, maybe hundreds of thousands of others. Am I losing my mind? Is this deep, intense exhaustion confusing my thinking? Actually, no. No it’s not. This IS the why, absolutely. But I’m feeling it so more acutely now because of the extremes my mind and body are going through. The ’why’ is simply clearer, it’s pure and simple now. An undeniable truth. Emotion is bound to surface and it does. Tears now join the sweat. Good is being done and will continue to be done. I WILL get to the finish line.

There have been personal benefits as well. Of course there have. The training means I’m fitter and thinking more clearly about many other things in life as well. I’m more focused and positive and of course this good energy is felt among family and friends.
But is that what gets me through the agony of the last 5 kms? No, not at all. It’s certainly helped me train when the chips were down. But what gets me through this wall of pain is knowing how many good hearted people have donated to the charity, have put their faith in me to do this. I will not let them down. Nor the people who will benefit directly from this huge effort to reach the finish line.

Those first few short training runs in the bleak mid winter, that first offer of support and all those that came afterwards – it’s all lead to this defining moment. Me crossing that finishing line and knowing it was all so very worthwhile.

At the Burns Supper in January 2012 we launched the “GREAT Britain” 2012 Paralympic Appeal, coinciding with the year of the London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games. The aim of this joint initiative with the British Embassy was to raise HUF 11,000,000 to buy a specially equipped bus for Hungary’s Junior Paralympic Team.

Being a sport-related appeal we enlisted the aid of the Budapest Sport Office (BSI), organisers of the 19th K&H marathon and half-marathon relay held in June 2012. The staff at the BSI were extremely helpful, and together with our hospitality  sponsors we managed to host a tent on Parliament Square for the many companies and representatives of the diplomatic corps who donated money for this special cause and took part in one of the various marathon formats, either individually or as part of a team.

The appeal target was finally reached in October 2012, and the Citroën Jumper 33 L2H2 minibus was officially handed over to the Hungarian Paralympic Committee on 22 November 2012.

On this occasion, HE Mr Jonathan Knott, UK Ambassador to Hungary and Patron of the “GREAT Britain” 2012 Paralympic Appeal said: “With this joint project we wanted to demonstrate the importance of the rights of disabled people, and raise the awareness of how sport can enrich lives, increase confidence and develop community relations. We are proud that the United Kingdom is one of the champions of supporting people’s rights with disabilities. I will remain dedicated to continue actively supporting human rights in the future.”

President of the Hungarian Paralympic Committee, Zsolt Gömöri, emphasised how thankful the Committee was for the generous donation. Paralympic gold medal swimmer Tamás Sors showed the bus to the public and drove the vehicle’s first passengers around Széchenyi square.

The RBIF would like to thank the British Embassy and our corporate sponsors, particularly Vodafone, BP, Provident, Process Solutions and TG Italiano, for their fantastic assistance during the year in helping us bring this appeal to a successful conclusion.

Douglas Arnott, Chairman of the Paralympic Appeal Committee

To find out more about how it feels to run a marathon, this is the story of RBIF’s very own  Marathon Man.

One major focus through 2010 and 2011 was the EUR 50,000 appeal to build mother and child units to assist the recovery of critically ill children at the 2nd Department of Paediatrics of Semmelweis University (SOTE II). The vast bulk of the money was raised by the Marathon Effort For SOTE II, in which Harry Harron and Simon Saunders tackled the toughest foot race on earth: the Marathon des Sables.

The challenge covered 250 km (155 miles), which equates to about five and-a-half marathons, and was run across the Sahara Desert over six days.

In addition to the more than HUF 1,000,000 donated by individuals through PayPal, our principal sponsors of Vodafone and Tesco donated HUF 5,000,000 and HUF 1,400,000 respectively to boost the fundraising towards the full HUF 15 million.

Today the units are open, and making a huge difference to the level of care extremely sick children receive at SOTE II by enabling a parent to remain in hospital with them. Thank you for your efforts in making this particular dream come true.

Watch the video below of Harry and Simon’s efforts.

 

How did the Robert Burns International Foundation (RBIF) come into being? Well, in the beginning was The Supper, and The Supper was with the Hungarian Scottish Society, and The Supper was The Hungarian Scottish Society. Except that it’s all a little more complicated than that…

What is clear is that the history of the RBIF is intrinsically linked with both the Budapest Burns Supper, which dates back to 1998, and the Hungarian Scottish Society. It might be more accurate to say that they begat the foundation.

The RBIF, indeed any foundation, needs a founder, someone who actually gets the ball rolling with a donation of money. In our case, that man was Zoltán Magyar, whose initial input in 2005 of HUF 1.1 million (around EUR 3,800 at the September 2012 exchange rate) set up the organisation.

Magyar is President of the Hungarian Scottish Society, and, with Jock MacKenzie was involved from the start with organising the Burns Supper. Magyar has had a long-time association with the Hungarian Football Federation (Magyar Labdarúgó Szövetség), which also provides a link to the foundation’s Honorary President, Sir Alex Ferguson.

Manchester United boss Fergie agreed to take up the role on 23 January 2007, when he was in the country to give a lecture to Hungarian football coaches. He had breakfast with MacKenzie and Magyar, after which he joked in an exclusive interview he gave me for The Budapest Sun that he had been “press-ganged” into joining. Describing himself as “a good Scot, a proud Scot”, and “a real aficionado of Robert Burns”, Ferguson said he wanted to spread the fame of Scotland’s national bard, adding that the RBIF’s charitable work was “exceptional”. The football legend presents the Ferenc Puskás – Sir Alex Ferguson Sponsor of the Year Trophy each year before a Man United home game at Old Trafford.

Ensuring that the books are all above board and that everything is transparent, accounting services are provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers and PwC Partner David Williams sits on the foundation’s Curatorium. In addition, KPMG makes an audit of the financial statements, a task organized by Partner Elek Votin. Neither PwC nor KPMG charge for their services, providing them instead as a form of sponsorship.

In addition to its fundraising activities, the centrepiece of which remains the Burns Supper, the RBIF also uses its highly developed networking skills to source funding and other support for cultural and Corporate Social Responsibility projects.

“The RBIF is not short of missions, but with a fully dedicated, no overhead staff [costs are met through sponsorship deals], just short of time for implementation of ideas to fulfil our objectives,” says MacKenzie.

By Robin Marshall

For a history of the Budapest Burns supper, click here.

For more on the Ferenc Puskás – Sir Alex Ferguson Sponsor of the Year Trophy, click here.

 

At any given time the Foundation may  have several appeals underway. In 2012 all our efforts were dedicated to raising money for the Hungarian Junior Paralympic Appeal to buy a specially adapted minibus for use by Hungarian Paralympic athletes.

This appeal was organised and conducted in conjunction with the British Embassy Budapest.

File:PG 1063Burns Naysmithcrop.jpg

(also known as Robbie Burns, Scotland’s favourite son, the Ploughman Poet, Robden of Solway Firth, the Bard of Ayrshire and in Scotland simply as The Bard)

Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a “light” Scots dialect, accessible to an audience beyond Scotland. He also wrote in standard English, and in these his political or civil commentary is often at its most blunt.

He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement, and after his death he became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism, and a cultural icon in Scotland and among the Scottish Diaspora around the world. Celebration of his life and work became almost a national charismatic cult during the 19th and 20th centuries, and his influence has long been strong on Scottish literature. In 2009 he was chosen as the ‘Greatest Scot’ by the Scottish public in a vote run by Scottish television channel STV.

As well as making original compositions, Burns also collected folk songs from across Scotland, often revising or adapting them. His poem (and song) Auld Lang Syne is often sung at Hogmanay (the last day of the year), and Scots Wha Hae served for a long time as an unofficial national anthem of the country. Other poems and songs of Burns that remain well-known across the world today include A Red, Red Rose; A Man’s A Man for A’ That; To a Louse; To a Mouse; The Battle of Sherramuir; Tam o’ Shanter, and Ae Fond Kiss.

That man to man, the world o’er, Shall brithers be for a’ that.’ (the last two lines of the poem below) – reflects Burns’ attitude to his fellow man and represents his attitude towards the inequality in society. The above summary of his life from Wikipedia is rather academic and does not reflect the man himself. Married only the once he never the less managed to have children with several different women, for which he was called before the ‘Kirk’ for a stiff reprimand. It is amazing that in his very short, 37-year life he managed to cram in so much.

The Burns Supper, originally an evening of eating and drinking for a group of men, developed into what it is today but we hope that our use of the Burns name is justified by the money we raise for children’s hospitals.

A Man’s a Man for a’ That

Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an’ a’ that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that.
Our toils obscure an’ a’ that,
The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
The Man’s the gowd for a’ that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an’ a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man’s a Man for a’ that:
For a’ that, and a’ that,
Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that;
The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
Is king o’ men for a’ that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,
Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a coof for a’ that:
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
His ribband, star, an’ a’ that:
The man o’ independent mind
He looks an’ laughs at a’ that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that;
But an honest man’s abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa’ that!
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
Their dignities an’ a’ that;
The pith o’ sense, an’ pride o’ worth,
Are higher rank than a’ that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brithers be for a’ that.