A huge thank you to everyone that attended the Annual Budapest Burns Supper on 26 January 2019. The 22nd annual event was held as ever in the Grand Ballroom of the Corinthia Hotel Budapest.

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! This year, UPS stepped up to bring over 140 kg of haggis and cheese from Scotland to Budapest for the Burns Supper.

The entertainment this year was a veritable mix of Scottish and Hungarian culture. First of all we heard the wonderful voice of Rebecka Johnston, singing some traditional Scottish folk songs. Then we had the amazingly talented Alison Ewan, a Scottish fiddler who flew out specifically to be with us at the Burns Supper. After Alison played for us she was joined on stage by a Hungarian fiddler and the rest of the Corinthia’s resident band for a truly delightful international performance.

The Budapest Burns Suppers have been growing and growing, and have been sell-outs in the last few years. The superb venue provides a great setting for some serious fundraising in the course of the evening, which was helped this year by our auction, which we took online for the very first time, and this led to some great competition for the great prizes on offer.

Overall we raised just short of HUF 14 million, 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 Budapest Airport, a huge thanks to them, but the event can never be held without the support of our other major sponsors too:

Nevis Sponsors: FirstMed Centers, BP
Saltire Sponsors: BlackRock, Woodbrook Wealth, Generali Insurance
Thistle Sponsors: Provident, CBRE
Auction/raffle sponsor: Qatar Airways

You can find the photos from the Burns Supper in our gallery, but also take a look at the video below which really captures the atmosphere at the event, and we are grateful to Péter Thoman at Inter-PR for his voluntary help in recording all the great photo and video memories.

The organisers would also like to thank WhiskyNet, Arran Distillery, CocaCola, Heineken, Diageo, Zwack, Miko Coffee, Szentkirályi-Kékkúti Water  and Vylyan Wineries, as well as all those who helped with the raffle and the auction.

Make sure you like the RBIF Facebook page or follow us on Instagram or Twitter 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 2019.

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

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

20th Burns Supper: Money raised to help sick children exceeds HUF 8 million

At the 20th anniversary gala and Scottish cultural event of the Robert Burns International Foundation (RBIF) on 21 January, donations raised for the healthcare projects embraced by the foundation amounted to more than ever before.

This year’s 20th Anniversary Budapest Burns Supper – not unlike in previous years – was held for its exclusive guests in the grandiose ballroom of the Corinthia Hotel with a typical dose of Scottish culture.

Following the celebratory toast of Iain Lindsay, British Ambassador to Hungary, Zoltán Magyar founder of the RBIF and President of the Hungarian Scottish Society, and Douglas Arnott, Chairman of the RBIF Curatorium, awarded PriceWaterhouseCoopers the Ferenc Puskás – Sir Alex Ferguson Award, given annually to the sponsor of the year. The award was named after the legendary captain of the Golden Team, Ferenc Puskás, and the honorary president of the foundation, Sir Alex Ferguson, former manager of Manchester United, and is always given to the company that was the most outstanding supporter of the foundation that year. This spring, Ferguson will personally hand the award over to Nick Kós, managing director of PwC, at a Manchester United football match at Old Trafford.

The Burns Supper, full of original Scottish culinary delicacies, is organised annually in honour of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. This year, besides the Scottish pipers and dancers, and the indispensable haggis with its special ceremony, folk dancers from Transylvania added some Hungarian spice to the event.

The Budapest Burns Supper is unique in the sense that the money gathered from entrance fees, the raffle and the auction of products, services offered by sponsors is spent entirely on charity by the Robert Burns International Foundation. At this year’s event this amounted to HUF 8 million, from which the foundation will buy medical equipment for the neonatal unit of the Péterfy Children’s Hospital, the 2nd Department of Paediatrics in Tűzoltó utca, Budapest, and Miskolc Hospital, as well as supporting the Zabar Nursery School in Nógrád county. The foundation raised more than HUF 12 million for healthcare institutions in 2016.

For photos and videos please click here:

Sponsor of the Year: PwC Hungary
Gold sponsors: Budapest Airport, Corinthia Hotel, Deloitte Hungary, Generali Insurance
Silver sponsors: KPMG, Qatar Airways, Diageo, DHL, Woodbrook Wealth
Bronze sponsors: Toray Water AG

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

19th Burns Supper: more than HUF 5 million raised for premature babies and sick children

At the largest charity event of the Robert Burns International Foundation (RBIF), the traditional Scottish Burns Supper held on 23 January 2016, the guests raised more than HUF 5 million for the child health-care projects earmarked by the Foundation – this year including the Neonatal Department of the Péterfy Sándor Hospital and the 2nd Department of Paediatrics in Tűzoltó utca.

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The Budapest Burns Supper is one of the highlights of the ball season, attended by executives, ambassadors, business-owners and groups of friends. At the evening demonstrating facets of Scottish culture, the guests were entertained by a children’s choir, a live bagpipe performance, a young opera singer and Scottish country dancers, before being able to learn different Scottish dances themselves after the dinner.

Zoltán Magyar, founder of the RBIF and the Hungarian-Scottish Society, along with Douglas Arnott, Chairman of the RBIF Curatorium handed over the Sponsor of the Year trophy, the Puskás Ferenc – Sir Alex Ferguson Award, to Deloitte. The award bears the name of the legendary Hungarian footballer and captain of the “Golden Team”, as well as the Honorary President of the RBIF, former manager of Manchester United. The trophy is awarded to the most outstanding supporter of the Foundation over the year. Sir Alex Ferguson will hand over the trophy in person to Gerard Lucey, CFO of Deloitte, at a home Manchester United game at Old Trafford this autumn. The Loyal Toast was given by Caitlin Jones, Chargé d’Affaires at the British Embassy in Budapest to the 315 guests. As a special guest of the evening, György Szöllősi, representing the Puskás Ferenc Institute, handed over a copy of the Puskás biography to the Sponsor of the Year. This third edition with a foreword by Ferguson was published in December 2015.

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What is special about the Budapest Burns Supper is that the funds raised from tickets, the raffle as well as products and services offered by sponsors for the are donated in their entirety by the Robert Burns International Foundation for charitable purposes. This amounted to more than HUF 5 million at this year’s event, which the RBIF will be using to buy special equipment for the Neonatal Department at the Péterfy Sándor Hospital, and helping to fund the renovation of the operatingtheatre and related facilities at the 2nd Department of Paediatrics in Tűzoltó utca. In 2015 a further HUF 10 million was donated to these two institutions for medical equipment.

Photos and videos, click here

The Grand Ballroom of the Corinthia Hotel Budapest hosted the 18th Annual Budapest Burns Supper on 24 January 2015. Around 300 guests packed into the ballroom for an evening of great entertainment with fine food, fine wines, and fine whiskies.

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Everyone was able to enjoy live pipe band music featuring world champion musicians, the traditional Address to the Haggis by Rab Tait, the lead piper, a choir performance by children from the Austrian-Hungarian Europaschule, and a Scottish country dancing display.

The chef at the Corinthia Hotel put together a superb menu including haggis flown in fresh from Inverness, Scotland. A night of Scottish culture and entertainment would not be complete without suitable refreshments, and we were fortunate to enjoy the support of Dreher, Diageo, Zwack Hungary and WhiskyNet, who manned the whisky-tasting bar again with a selection of malts from all round Scotland, while Vargabor and Hangácsi és Fia provided top-quality wines to accompany the meal.

The Puskás Ferenc – Sir Alex Ferguson Trophy was presented to the RBIF’s Sponsor of the Year, the Mercedes-Benz / Evobus, represented by General Manager Ingo Fröhlich. The trophy will be presented again by the RBIF’s Honorary President Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, Manchester in April 2015.DSC_4583

The raffle prizes (first prize: two tickets with Turkish Airlines anywhere in the world) and the auction items were very popular, raising over 5 million HUF on the night, a fantastic achievement, and this money will be used over the year to sponsor the projects designated by the Foundation.

As ever we are grateful to all our sponsors who make this event possible.

The Grand Ballroom of the Corinthia Hotel Budapest was once again the venue for the 17th Annual Budapest Burns Supper on 25 January 2014.

More than 280 guests filled the ballroom for an evening that was packed with entertainment, fine food, fine wines, and of course, fine whiskies.

The great mix of corporate tables and groups of friends were able to enjoy live pipe band music featuring world champion musicians, the traditional Address to the Haggis by Rab Tait, lead piper, a hip-hop performance by children representing the 2nd Department of Paediatrics in Tűzoltó utca, and a Scottish country dancing display.

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The chef at the Corinthia Hotel put together a superb menu including haggis flown in fresh from Inverness, Scotland, and cheese sourced by I.J. Mellis in Edinburgh. The veal with foie gras and scallops was a particular favourite!

A night of Scottish culture and entertainment would not be complete without suitable refreshments, and we were fortunate to enjoy the ongoing support of Heineken, Johnnie Walker, Glenfarclas, and WhiskyNet, who manned the whisky-tasting bar again with a selection of malts from all round Scotland, while Vargabor and Hangácsi és Fia provided top-quality wines to accompany the meal.

One highlight of the evening was Julie Greer, a Scottish singer, who sang two beautiful songs by Robert Burns acapella for the guests, while it was an honour for the Robert Burns International Foundation to have Mrs Ferenc Puskás as a guest, and she presented a replica of the Puskás Ferenc – Sir Alex Ferguson Trophy to the RBIF’s Sponsor of the Year, the Corinthia Hotel, represented by General Manager Thomas Fischer. The actual trophy, currently on display at the Hungarian Embassy in London, will be presented by the RBIF’s Honorary President Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, Manchester on 9 February 2014.

The raffle prizes (first prize: two tickets with Turkish Airlines anywhere in the world) and the auction items were very popular, raising over 5 million HUF on the night, a fantastic achievement, and this money will be used over the year to sponsor the projects designated by the Foundation.

As ever we are grateful to all our sponsors who make this event possible.DSC_4583

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Glenfarclas WhiskyNET Heineken Varga Corinthia Hotel Budapest Sailing Pass Johnnie Walker

The 16th Annual Budapest Burns Supper in 2013 was held in the stunning ballroom of the Corinthia Hotel, Budapest, on 26th January 2013.

The almost 240 guests were treated to a splendid 5-course dinner worthy of the 5-star hotel, complete with beer sponsored by Heineken, wines sponsored by Varga Pincészet and Hangácsi és Fia, as well as whiskies sponsored by Diageo (Johnnie Walker) and WhiskyNet.

The 8 pipers and drummers flown in specially from Scotland provided the musical entertainment along with two opera singers, Szilvia Vörös and Csaba Gaál, who performed a Mozart duet on the gallery of the ballroom, and not to mention Dagda, our resident Scottish folk music band who have supported the Budapest Burns Suppers for many years.

Thanks to the generous donations of all those present the raffle and auction raised the princely sum of HUF 5 million or €17,000 for the Foundation and its projects, and so a big thank you to all those who continue to support the work of the RBIF in Hungary.

You can find a selection of photos from the evening under our Gallery page.

Family dare leads to children’s charity

Join us on a journey through the misty veil of history deep into the folklore that surrounds the annual celebration of a Scottish birthday in Hungary…

It seems an odd beginning, but the Budapest Burns Supper started in 1997 with a family challenge, when a relative of Jock MacKenzie’s Hungarian wife Nellie suggested the Scotsman organise a party in honour of his country’s national poet.

MacKenzie is honest enough to admit he had no idea back then what a Burns Supper might entail. “Although I was born in the north of Scotland, the family had moved by the time I was three or four, so I was never really brought up with it; I was raised and educated in the South.” By “the South” he means England.

It was while researching Burns traditions that MacKenzie met someone who was to play a huge part in his life, and that of the Budapest Burns Supper; Zoltán Magyar, the chairman of the Hungarian-Scottish Society.

Magyar loved the idea of a Burns evening, and a plan was soon hatched to find a handful of Scottish expats and do “something small” in the countryside in January 1998. “I was going to provide a sheep and some whisky, Zoli a pig and the pálinka,” MacKenzie recalls. But even then, the Burns Supper had a will of its own. “Within three months, it had escalated to an event for 300 people in its first year,” MacKenzie says.

Letters of support were received from the office of the then President of Hungary, Árpád Göncz, and the Prime Minister. The British and Canadian Ambassadors attended. The Trade Unions’ Congress Hall provided the venue. Tickets, MacKenzie says, cost around HUF 2,000, but that was still enough to generate a surplus of HUF 150,000, which no one seemed quite certain what to do with.

Nellie MacKenzie was a teacher working with seriously handicapped children; she knew first hand that Hungarian healthcare was – and sadly still is – in great need of financial support. She began to ask around her colleagues for a worthy beneficiary. “Three or four weeks later, all the contacts were coming back pointing to Prof. György Fekete at SOTE II,” MacKenzie says. Another piece of what makes today’s Burns event had fallen into place.

He went to meet the good doctor at the Second Department of Paediatrics at Semmelweis University of Medicine to hand over the cash, and what he saw changed his life. It is still, he says, the thing that drives his passion to raise ever more money. Fekete showed him round a clinic were the obvious love and care of the staff was coupled to crumbling infrastructure and ancient equipment. “He took me to the second operating theatre, opened the door and a cloud of dust blew up. Once it had settled, and we could see again, it was like walking into a Dickensian surgery.”

With haggis from Cockburns of Dingwall (who supplied the late Queen Mother), and cheese from Orkney by Inverness Farmers Dairy (both still supply the event, with DHL transporting the goods free of charge), the first supper, called the Burns Overnight, had laid a basis; the second event, in 1999, would set the pattern. Ticket prices went up, but so did the level of entertainment. Overheads were to be avoided (the evening, indeed the Robert Burns International Foundation itself, is still overhead free), and there was to be a fundraising target: HUF 6 mln for a modern operating table for that unused, unusable theatre. MacKenzie laughs at the audacity of it now, but the table was brought out to Hungary and put on display during the evening.

“I remember we had some difficulty bringing it in, a deposit had to be paid, but somebody came to our rescue, as they generally do.” By the end of the evening, this time held in Hűvösvölgyi Vigadó, enough had been pledged to ensure the table could find its new home.

Now established as an annual event, the charity fundraiser continued to grow.

“There were key points when it jumped a level. One was when Mark Muss took over as Chairman for the evening in 2000; there’s no doubt he took us onto a new plain. A second was when Adrian Gray (General Manager of Le Meridien) got involved. His relationship with Adrian Ellis (GM of the Corinthia) moved us from a three-star operation to a five-star operation, and not just in terms of location. Another came when Stuart McAlister succeed Mark as chairman of the Burns Supper in 2004.”

The Robert Burns International Foundation – with Zoli Magyar as founder and Steve Jones, after many years helping the Burns Suppers, appointed General Secretary – was born out of a desire to put the fundraising on a more professional, transparent basis that was sustainable. It took over organisation of the Burns Supper. The joint patrons are the British Ambassador in Hungary and the Hungarian Ambassador in London. The Deputy Head of the UK Mission has a permanent seat on the Curatorium that runs the foundation.

Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed as the Honorary President and for five years has presented the annual Ferenc Puskás – Sir Alex Ferguson Sponsor of the Year Trophy.

The large scale Budapest Burns Supper also supports the “Small Burns Supper” held in and with the support of the Scottish Mission. Staged a few days later, it is supplied with the same food and drink and is designed to provide a more traditional supper; as it is not a fund raising event, ticket prices are kept much lower.

By Robin Marshall

Budapest Burns timeline.

1759 – Robert Burns born on 25 January in Alloway, South Ayrshire
1796 – Burns dies 21 July in Dumfries, age just 37
1998 – Burns Overnight, Trade Unions’ Congress Hall (MSzOSz), Budapest, the very first official Budapest Burns Supper
1999-2000 – Burns Supper at the Hűvösvölgyi Vigadó
2001 – Burns Supper at the Intercontinental Hotel
2002 – Burns Supper at the Marriott Hotel
2003 – to date – Burns Supper at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest
2002 – 5th anniversary
2005 – Robert Burns International Foundation founded
2007 – 10th anniversary
2017 – 20th anniversary

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.