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 his widow, Erzsébet, in honour of the great man. This is his story:

***

I am like many people on this planet a fanatical football fan. The death of Ferenc Puskás evoked mixed emotions amongst everybody with a love of the great game. Whilst we were all deeply saddened by the loss of one of the sport’s greatest ambassadors, we can also take some comfort from the great memories he has bestowed on us.

My own introduction to the legendary Puskás was via my father and grandfather. Both were present at Hampden Park (Glasgow) on 18 May 1950, to witness what has been recognised as one of the greatest football games ever. On that day Puskás and Real Madrid showed the world football perfection, by winning the European Cup in front of over 130,000 fans, defeating Eintracht Frankfurt by seven goals to three. Puskás scored four goals. Though I was not even a twinkle in my father’s eye in 1960, I was to hear stories of this marvellous football game for many years to come. Ferenc Puskás achieved greatness. He scored 511 goals in 533 appearances in the Hungarian and Spanish leagues. He also scored 83 goals in 84 international matches for Hungary – a strike rate unmatched in international football (and footballs were very much heavier in those days!). On two occasions, in 1953 and 1954, Puskás and the national Hungary side also demolished England, and in the process became the first overseas team to beat England at Wembley. This feat also won the hearts of the Scottish nation.

As a tribute to this legend and truly outstanding character, I have commissioned the production of a very unique gift. A highly skilled craftsman located in the north of Scotland has lovingly created a hand-made copper football. The football is of the highest quality it is creative, and it is unique – just like Puskás. This gift is for the family of Ferenc Puskás. Please accept this gift from the football fans of Scotland We love Ferenc Puskás. He will never be forgotten – his football exploits will be told for many generations to come – in his native Hungary, in Scotland, and all over the world.

Stewart Miller
Football Fan
Scotland

***

Stewart wrote to the Hungarian embassy in London, and the news eventually made its way to Zoltán Magyar, the Robert Burns International Foundation Founder.

Zoltán suggested that the gift could perhaps be used in a different way, and 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, and the trophy now bears the names of the two footballing legends.

You can read all about the previous winners of the trophy in the separate articles on our Sponsors of the Year, which you can find here.

Just a few weeks after the festivities around Christmas and New Year, people are always ready for a party again, which makes the timing of the traditional Budapest Burns Supper perfect. The 21st annual event was held as ever in the amazing Ballroom of the Corinthia Hotel Budapest on 27 January 2018.

As a Burns Supper there are many traditional elements, such as the Address to the Haggis, performed by the lead piper Rab Tait in his own inimitable way. Guests are also treated to Scotland’s national dish of haggis, neeps and tatties as a starter, with many asking for more! Over the years, DHL as a sponsor have brought over almost one and a half tonnes of haggis from Scotland to Budapest for the Burns Supper.

This year guests were entertained by the fabulous singing and poetry recital of Sophie Craig, a 16-year-old girl from Alloway, who performed at Burns’ Cottage on the 25th before jumping on a plane to perform in Budapest as well. A real talent!

The Budapest Burns Suppers have been growing and growing recently, and almost 350 people attended this year, a record turnout. The superb venue provides a great setting for some serious fundraising in the course of the evening.

Overall more than HUF 13 million was raised, which will be donated to the 2nd Department of Paediatrics in Tűzoltó utca, the Péterfy Children’s Hospital, and other projects to be announced over the coming months by the Robert Burns International Foundation.

Sponsor of the Year was Generali Foundation, a huge thanks to them, but the event can never be held without the support of our regular sponsors too:

Gold Sponsors: Corinthia Hotel, Budapest Airport, FirstMed Centers and Woodbrook Wealth.
Silver Sponsors: Qatar Airways, DHL and Diageo.
Bronze Sponsors: Theodora Water, CBRE and Inter Relocation.

Click here to see all the photos from the Burns Supper, and we are grateful to photographer Russell Skidmore for his voluntary help in recording all the great memories from the event.

The organisers would also like to thank WhiskyNet, Arran Distillery, CocaCola, Dreher, Volvo, Szent Donát Winery Babiczki Winery, Zwack, Nespresso, as well as all those who helped with the raffle and the auction.

With so many people turning up, make sure you like the RBIF Facebook page to be sure of hearing all the details about next year’s event in good time, and to find out what projects the RBIF will be supporting throughout 2018!

The Robert Burns International Foundation (RBIF) is supported by the British Ambassador to Hungary and the Hungarian Ambassador to the UK. The Honorary President of the foundation is Sir Alex Ferguson, former manager of Manchester United football club. In the last 20 years the organisation has raised several hundred thousand euros to help sick and underprivileged children.

Contact: info@rbif.hu

The Robert Burns International Foundation raises charity funds throughout the year, though it comes into strongest focus around the Burns Supper. But given what it commits to do, raising the money is as nothing if it is not spent.

Professor Dr György Fekete, the former Director of the II Paediatric Department of Semmelweis University in Budapest, acts as medical adviser to the RBIF, helping sift through the many applications for support to find and select the most appropriate and deserving projects.

The Hungarian health care system has been underfunded for years, since long before the global economic crisis began to tighten purse strings. As a result, donations from foundations, private sponsors and organisations are often the only ways open to hospitals in need of new equipment. The only alternatives are official Hungarian or EU research projects and grants, but the process of accessing the money is complex and time consuming. “Donations are easier and faster sources, because they do not require such a long administrative and bureaucratic processes as the applications for grants,” the Professor says.

“Since all the instruments serve basic, every-day medical needs, mostly important in the emergency and intensive-care treatment of ill children, these gifts have helped to save lives in many cases,” Fekete insists.

“Hungarian doctors and patients know and are very thankful for all of these donations, being aware of the difference to their work, on the one hand, and their improved chances for being healthy again on the other. In short, all the hospitals that have been supported over the years are now able to offer a higher level of medical care than before the donation, and this fact is very crucial for the benefit for our young patients!”

Thank youProfessor Dr György Fekete speaking at the 2011
Budapest Burns Supper. Photo courtesy of Tamás Rajna,
www.imagesbyrajna.com

The RBIF applies strict criteria before it agrees to pay out any monies. Hospital units must prove their need for the equipment and give guarantees the money will be used solely for the purposes outlined.

By Robin Marshall