Organising a Burns Supper takes a bit of coordination, making sure that all the elements that make up a successful event are planned, arranged and delivered on time to celebrate the birthday of Scotland’s most famous bard.

In the 22 years that the RBIF has held Budapest’s biggest Burns Supper for charity, many things now thankfully run like clockwork, helped by the familiarity of the event location at the Corinthia Hotel, the home of the Burns Supper since 2004.

Yet changes are necessary from time to time, and this year it gives us an opportunity to highlight the logistics behind one of the most important parts of the Burns Supper.

Just a few days before submitting the annual order for our haggis and cheese in early January 2019 we still did not know how we were going to get it to Budapest. Some 140kg of product is not something you can just stick in a suitcase and hope the check-in staff at the airport are sympathetic to your cause. Clearly, we needed help.

And fortunately we got it, all thanks to Jim Kearney, Country Partner at UPS for Hungary, Greece, Romania and Slovenia. After explaining our predicament to Jim, he asked for a little time to discuss the details with his colleagues at UPS Scotland, but we had no reason to worry.

What followed was very slick and professional handling of our logistical problem. Every year we order in excess of 100kg of award-winning haggis from Cockburns Butchers in Dingwall, right in the north of Scotland. This year our 30-40kg of cheese came from Royal Deeside via I.J. Mellis in Edinburgh. So it’s not a simple A to B job either, even more so when it leaves the UK, as shown by the map.

But Jim and his colleague Scott Fowler in Scotland, along with their respective teams, were up to the task. Within 36 hours everything was delivered safe and sound to the Corinthia Hotel in central Budapest, and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. UPS had saved the RBIF from the infamy of organising a Burns Supper without any haggis, all in the spirit of charity and helping sick and underprivileged children in Hungary.

Just click on the photos to track the route of the haggis and cheese through Europe. We hope you all enjoyed sampling them at the Burns Supper, and a huge thanks to UPS for their voluntary support.

 

Make sure you like the RBIF Facebook page or follow us on Instagram or Twitter to keep up to date with all the RBIF will be doing throughout 2019.

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

The Chairman of the Robert Burns International Foundation, owner of EDMF Language Services Kft. and long-term Hungary resident Douglas Arnott has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the UK’s New Year’s Honours for services to charity and UK-Hungary relations.

The list of recipients is announced every year at the end of December. This year the British Empire Medal was awarded to a total of 358 people. Apart from those living in the British Isles only four people received this prominent award, including Douglas, who has been working at the RBIF helping sick and underprivileged children for seven years, five of which as Chairman.

Proficient in four languages, including Hungarian, Douglas graduated from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland with an honours degree in translation and interpreting, before settling in Hungary and establishing EDMF. For more than seven years he has been involved in the RBIF’s charitable activities, for which he was recognised with a BEM in the New Year’s Honours List.

The announcement of the award at the end of last year will be followed by the medal presentation this year along with a garden party at Buckingham Palace for the award winners.

About the British Empire Medal:

This high-level honour was established in 1917 as part of the Order of the British Empire and is awarded for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Queen. Between 1993 and 2012 the BEM was not awarded to subjects of the United Kingdom, although it continued to be presented in some Commonwealth countries. The awarding of the British Empire Medal to subjects of the United Kingdom was resumed in 2012 to coincide with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The final decision on the medal awards is made by Queen Elisabeth II herself.

♦️Gilly McArthur (@gillymcarthur) által megosztott bejegyzés,

In recent years the RBIF has been intensifying its activities beyond the boundaries of the capital Budapest, and 2018 was no exception.

As part of the SME Sponsorship Scheme, and as ever with the medical advice from Professor György Fekete, former director of the 2nd Department of Paediatrics at SOTE II in Budapest, we got in contact with Ferenc Papp, consultant physician and head of department at the paediatric unit in Hódmezővásárhely in southern Hungary.

Having teamed up with the RBIF in 2017, the staff at Inter Relocation Kft. again demonstrated their willingness to get involved with this ever-growing scheme organised by the RBIF. Such was the donation provided by Inter Relocation, and doubled by funds raised at the 2018 Burns Supper, that we were able to buy not just two but in fact three infusion pumps.

During our visit to the hospital in Makó in December 2018, where one of the pumps is already in use, Dr Papp explained that “the pump enables IV fluids and also medicines to be dosed very accurately compared to gravity-based drips”, which really enhances the standard of care. Until the RBIF donation was handed over, the hospital in Makó did not have any such infusion pump. The other two pumps are now also being used in Hódmezővásárhely.

In Makó, the RBIF represented by Chairman Douglas Arnott was accompanied by HM Ambassador Iain Lindsay, Honorary Patron of the RBIF, and Stuart McAlister, Managing Director at Inter Relocation Kft.

Stuart revealed he was delighted Inter Relocation were able to continue their involvement in the SME Scheme:

“Our sponsorship of individual projects, under the stewardship of the RBIF, plays a key role in Inter Relocation’s CSR program. It is incredible that we can make a clear and measurable difference to a hospital in need, by investing in key equipment. I was honoured to have the chance to meet with the staff of the hospital in Makó and to learn first-hand how our donation makes a difference to the staff of the paediatric department, and the children they treat there.”

Very early one cold December morning, when it was still dark, we hit the road to Zalaegerszeg in western Hungary, a place hitherto notable to me only for the unpronouncability of its name. 

I’ve since nailed the pronunciation (I had plenty of time in the car).  Anyway, I was undertaking a day of calls and public engagements on behalf of the Embassy in Zala.  And the most important event I took part in, as a member of the RBIF Curatorium, was the handover of a donation of a bronchoscope to the Zala County Szent Rafael hospital’s paediatric department with Dougie Arnott (Chairman) and Dennis Diokno of FirstMed.  This donation was enabled through our SME Sponsorship Scheme, with FirstMed teaming up with RBIF in this instance to double the value of the donation.

We were lucky enough to be given a tour of the Paediatrics Department by Dr László Gárdos, Head of Department.  There was a festive feel as, on 6 December, all the doctors and nurses were dressed in Santa hats for St Nicholas.  It was touching to meet some patients and their parents, and to witness the serenity and dedication of the staff.  Seeing the newborns was of course a particular joy.  We also saw the helipad of which the hospital was very proud – but sadly (or perhaps happily) no helicopters in sight.

Dr Gárdos received the bronchoscope on behalf of the hospital.  They have not, until now, had their own bronchoscope and he explained how it will help them diagnose a multitude of breathing problems much more easily and treat airway blockages when, for example, babies or children ingest small objects.

Dr Gabriella Halász, President of the Hospital, said it was a huge honour to receive the equipment.  In fact, I felt humbled by the whole occasion and thought, on the contrary, the honour was ours.

Caitlin Jones
Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy
Curatorium Member

The Péterfy Sándor Street Hospital, located in District 7, is one of the larger hospitals in Budapest with nearly 1,600 beds, where patients can be treated for an array of ailments and conditions. The Péterfy Sándor Hospital has been operating since 1848, which also makes it one of Budapest’s older hospitals.

The RBIF has been working closely with the hospital for a number of years, with its focus being on the improvement and provision of facilities and equipment on the neonatal wing, which treats and cares for newborn children, primarily premature babies. Despite the dedication of its workers, patrons and benefactors the hospital still struggles to provide the most up-to-date and holistic care for its patients. So one of the RBIF’s priorities is to support the neonatal wing by helping to equip it with the required technology, in order to ensure the comfort and survival of many of the prematurely newborn babies they receive.

The neonatal wing is run by Dr Gabor Baross who, with the support of his team, can deal with anything between 500 – 600 premature babies every year. Given the wing can only accommodate 20/30 babies at any one time, if one was to say the wing is running at capacity, it would be somewhat of an understatement. Dr Baross also explained that to compound this problem, it is getting harder and harder to recruit and retain skilled and qualified nurses, to care for the newborn babies, as they are being tempted to leave Hungary and move abroad.

 

What defines a premature baby who needs the help of Dr Baross and his colleagues? A premature baby is anything weighing between 500 grams to 1 kilogram. A baby born under 500 grams has a 20/30% survival rate, and then only a 30% chance of being healthy. Once a newborn is brought to the wing Dr Baross ensures he/she is checked extensively, and then placed in one of the incubators – presuming there is free capacity. Depending on the diagnosis, the baby will then spend anything between 4 weeks to 4 months within the confines of this incubator. Dr Baross welcomes visits from the parents, but this needs to be managed carefully as there can be up to 5 incubators in 1 room, meaning circulation space can be at a premium.

 

As a direct result of your generous help and contributions in 2018, we were able to buy and provide Dr Baross with eight top of the range bedside monitors, which is excellent news given our target was five. This has greatly helped the unit, and made the monitoring of the babies’ welfare far, far easier, as these new machines can measure blood pressure ECG, temperature and blood oxygen levels using one lead only. The older version required 4 machines with 4 separate leads. Not only was this inefficient, but it made holistic diagnosis / check-ups more complicated and timely.

 

What next? The hospital asks the government for support every year, but so far it is only patrons like the RBIF and others who provide them with support. The objective for 2019 is to acquire 3 or 4 more monitors as well as provide support for the wing to construct parent rooms. Despite Dr Baross winning an award for the most “Baby Friendly Hospital” in 2018, the department is still tired and limited. There is some redundant space at the end of the wing which can be converted into spaces for parents to stay with their babies. Currently there are 2 rooms (for mothers only) and fathers can only visit for a few hours every day. Fathers are not allowed to stay the night, primarily due to capacity reasons. Clearly this proposed construction for further parent rooms is (almost) prohibitively expensive, but with the support of the RBIF’s sponsors and guests there is always hope.

The keen-eyed among you will have noticed that the RBIF launched a brand-new website in 2018, a platform that makes it much easier for us to let you know exactly what we are doing and helps us to interact more with everyone on social media.

Designing and building a new website is not an easy task, and not a cheap one either, which is why we were extremely grateful to Edit McAlister at Expat Press Magazine and Inter Relocation.

Why did you decide to help the RBIF with its new website?

When the RBIF Chairman Douglas Arnott asked me whether I could help with this project, there was nothing to decide, I had to say yes. I’ve been attending the Burns Suppers for almost ten years as a guest, and I know just how much valuable work goes into running the foundation.

I really appreciate, and hold in high regard, the work carried out by the RBIF. The purpose of the fundraising is to help sick and underprivileged children, so for me it was a no-brainer: if the foundation needed my expertise, I was happy to give it to them.

The new website helps us communicate our fundraising activity for sick and underprivileged children to as wide an audience as possible.

Edit, many would think Expat Press Magazine is just another website for expats in Hungary, but it’s a bit more than that, isn’t it?

Edit McAlister, Managing Editor and Director of Marketing / photo: Brigitta Kátay-Tóth

It is important for us that our readers receive content that does not come across as simple advertising, but which conveys credible information and is genuinely helpful.

The majority of our writers are expats themselves, who have lived in the country for a long time and know it inside out. For example, the places that we write about are not just ones we have visited once, they have become regular haunts and we share tried-and-tested experiences with our readers.

We believe it is crucial that our readers should really feel at home in Hungary, with all its positive and negative nuances. Our Budapest Expats group on Facebook is essentially an extension of the magazine, where people can go to for further help and guidance from us.

Why have interactive websites and social media become so important?

The two are intertwined. There are many professional articles out there on this, but in a nutshell, social media posts provide an opportunity for the public to find your new web content and click through to your site, and an active social media presence builds relationships with your audience.

An interactive web design engages visitors with a more relevant experience. It’s the difference between talking at someone and starting a conversation.

What would you say to anyone thinking of offering their own specialist services to help the RBIF?

You cannot put a price on the activity that the RBIF performs. Some might question the importance of corporate social responsibility activities.

I believe that giving back to the community and helping those in need should be an integral part of our lives nowadays, both at a personal and at a business level. For me at least, this isn’t even a question.

 

 

On 15 November 2018 the RBIF held a charity wine-tasting event in the fantastic setting of one of Budapest’s finest hotels, the BuddhaBar Hotel.

The ultimate objective of the wine-tasting was to choose the wines that we will serve at the 2019 Burns Supper to be held on 26 January, but perhaps more importantly it gave everyone a chance to enjoy a relaxing and informal Thursday evening in good company and with some excellent wines.

The charity wine-tasting provided an opportunity for guests to taste their way around Hungary, without ever leaving the capital. Indeed, we had a nice range of Italian wines too, which were a great complement to the many Hungarian products on display.

We were lucky to enjoy the support of many winemakers from around the country, including the Árvay Winery (Tokaj), Szent Donát Winery (Csopak), Babiczki Winery (Mátra), Vylyan Vineyards (Villány), Etyeki Kúria Winery (Etyek), Hetényi Winery (Szekszárd), Frittmann Winery (Soltvadkert), Orosz Gyula Winery (Etyek), Szende Winery (Villány), Vinox Wine Traders, and the house wines from our host for the Burns Supper, the Corinthia Hotel.

Please click on the photos below to see exactly what happened at the wine-tasting, thanks to everyone who came!

In 2018 the RBIF and its supporters and sponsors helped renovate a nursery in one Budapest’s most disadvantaged districts.

The Wesley János nursery in Dankó utca, district 8 in Budapest, accommodates many children during the day who for various reasons outwith their control are unable to attend other nurseries perhaps closer to their home.  The nursery building was in a poor state, and Zsuzsanna Bozó along with Patrick McMenamin, two long-standing supporters of the RBIF, decided they wanted to do something about it. The project got off to a fantastic start with a donation of GBP 5000 from the Tartan Army Sunshine Appeal.

Renovating an entire nursery is no mean feat, but thanks to Zsuzsa’s organisation skills she soon had a band of helpers, volunteers and organisations, including the RBIF, willing to get involved.

Unfortunately, soon after the work began it turned out that the nursery was in a far worse state than had originally been assumed, particularly the walls, and indeed the building was a health hazard to the children.

It was a setback, but soon the organisers had found the tradesmen to complete the extra work, getting rid of the mould, and the renovation was back on track.

This did mean, however, that a large chunk of the original budget had to be spent on finishing the unplanned tasks, and this put both the end-date and indeed the full completion of the project in doubt. The children were coming back to nursery after the summer holidays, so the building had to be fit for purpose by 1 September at the latest.

With the first nursery project sponsored by the RBIF in Zabar in 2017, the RBIF committed to buying a washing machine and a tumble drier. This proved to be a successful approach, where the equally disadvantaged children there were able to bring their dirty clothes into nursery in the morning, and be sent home with clean clothes in the afternoon. Experience showed that not having clean clothes was one of the reasons behind absenteeism at the nursery.

The RBIF had originally committed to buying a washing machine and tumble drier for the Wesley János nursery too, but once it transpired that the funding had been underestimated because of the unexpected problems, we were very happy to be able to offer Zsuzsa and Patrick the extra finance that they needed to bring the project to a successful conclusion. So not only did we help to buy the washer and drier, we also provided the funds to buy the furniture to equip the now clean, healthy and modernised nursery building.

This extra injection of money was largely thanks to the guests and sponsors of the RBIF Summer BBQ, held for the first time this year, and brought the RBIF’s contribution to the project to over HUF 1 million (EUR 3200).

Now that the nursery has been officially handed over and the children are enjoying their new and healthy surroundings, we would like to send our thanks to everyone involved in the nursery renovation, all of the organisations, companies, volunteers and helpers, including the St. Andrews Association and the Irish Hungarian Business Circle, who gave either time, expertise or dug deep into their pockets to make the Wesley János nursery a suitable and safe place for the many disadvantaged children that attend. This truly was an international effort.

For more information on the nursery projects run by Zsuzsa and Patrick, you can visit their website here.

This is one of the six projects supported by the RBIF in 2018 from the funds raised at the Burns Supper in January this year.

On 2 September 2018 the RBIF held its inaugural (end-of) summer BBQ at the Chefparade Country venue in Etyek, just 30 minutes outside Budapest. It looked for a while that the day might be a complete wash-out, but in the morning the sun finally broke through and the first RBIF charity BBQ was held in […]