At just before 3pm on Saturday, 14 January 2012, the name of the Robert Burns International Foundation Sponsor of the Year was announced in front of 75,000 football fans at the Manchester United stadium, and RBIF President Sir Alex Ferguson presented the trophy to David Wood, commercial director of Tesco Global Áruházak Zrt.
Tesco Hungary is one of a handful of sponsors who have supported the Budapest Burns Supper since the very first Burns Overnight in 1998. As the very time this article was being written, the company was becoming only the fifth recipient of the Puskás Ferenc – Sir Alex Ferguson Sponsor of the Year Trophy.
The experience of being on such hallowed turf as that of the Theatre of Dreams just minutes before a game is unique. RBIF curatorium chairman Jock MacKenzie has described it as “electric and hair raising”. Supper chairman Stuart McAlister was equally moved the year he attended.
“The feeling of walking on to the pitch at Old Trafford is one I doubt I’ll ever forget,” he recalls. “Even though I was born in Liverpool and have been a Red all my life, I was still proud to have the chance to walk up through the tunnel and onto one of the most famous football pitches in the world. Being greeted by Sir Alex Ferguson certainly made the experience that much more special.”
The match on 14 January was against Bolton Wanderers, which, given that there is only 30 km (20 miles) between the two stadia, almost makes it a derby game, and guarantees a sell-out crowd. The official attendance on the day was 75,444. And they saw a little piece of Red Devil’s history:
37-year-old Paul Scholes’ first goal since the veteran came out of retirement, in his first home game. Manchester United won 3:0.
We spoke with David Wood, who has been commercial director since 2010, a few days before he flew out to the UK to receive the trophy.
Tesco has sponsored the Budapest Burns Supper since its launch 15 years ago. But how and why did Tesco get involved in the first place?
It is a core priority for Tesco to be a good neighbour and to act responsibly in the communities we serve. The cause supported by the Budapest Burns Supper has always been an important one for the local community, which is why Tesco – at that time a relatively new enterprise in the Hungarian market – decided to sponsor it.
Why does Tesco continue to support the Budapest Burns Supper?
The need to support children’s hospitals is an enduring one. Hence over the years we have strengthened our partnership with the Robert Burns International Foundation. We value the consistency of the Foundation’s leadership and the great effort the volunteers of the Foundation dedicate to helping people or institutions in difficult situations.
Given the on going global economic recession, and the difficult trading environment in Hungary, are there any plans to cut back on support in the future?
During times of recession it is even more important that we support our local communities and we have no plans to reduce our commitment in this area.
Why is charitable support such as that organised by the RBIF important?
Such charity events not only raise funds for people or institutions in need but also highlight the areas where help is needed most. It is a way of setting an example of how individuals and companies can make a difference, and Tesco has been keen to do so. It is great that such an enduring legend as Sir Alex Ferguson continues to support the Foundation.