The 15th anniversary Budapest Burns Supper, held at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest on Saturday, raised almost HUF 5 million (EUR 16,960) for children’s hospitals in Hungary, the organisers say.
Stephen Jones, general secretary of the Robert Burns International Foundation (RBIF), which pulls together the event and oversees distribution of the money, put the figure raised on the night at HUF 4.8 million (EUR 16,281).
“Although the income was reduced on last year, the raffle and auction are about the same,” Jones said. “Each year we aim to support, from the Burns Supper itself, five HUF 1 million (EUR 3,392) hospital projects, which we will be able to do as we have a surplus in hand from previous years.”
All photos courtesy of www.imagesbyrajna.com
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.
Professor Dr. György Fekete, the RBIF’s medical advisor, explained to the roughly 200 guests (who each made a donation of HUF 25,000 (EUR 84.82) for their seat), exactly what a difference the fund-raising 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 next several years and can celebrate the 30th anniversary, when this ‘child’ will be already 30 years old!”
Fekete added: “The charity of the Scottish community in Hungary has such a valuable impact even for the children themselves.” Parents, patients and hospital staff knew and appreciated the generous fundraising of the Burns Supper, he said.
Fekete is the former director of the Second Department of Paediatrics of Semmelweis University (SOTE II) 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 Curitorium that oversees the RBIF’s activities, spoke of his surprise and pride that the supper was still running 15 years after its inception, 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.
Strong support: Three companies that have provided extensive assistance to the Burns Suppers over the years were honoured on Saturday evening. From left: Jock MacKenzie, (chairman RBIF Curatorium), Zoltán Magyar (chairman, Hungarian-Scottish Society, founder RBIF), Csaba Szabó (CEO, Develor Consulting Ltd), David Thompson (partner, KPMG), Mike Birch OBE (partner, PwC) and Stuart McAlister (chairman, Budapest Burns Supper Committee).
A 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 kilometres, which equates to about five-and-a-half marathons, and was run across the Sahara Desert over six days. 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.