This year the Robert Burns International Foundation will be working on five major projects, in addition to its on-going work supporting Hungary’s children’s hospitals.
-There has long been an informal link with the Hungarian Business Leaders’ Forum (HBLF), which will now move on to a more formal footing. “The HBLF wishes to cooperate for fundraising purposes and will be setting up a fundraising committee,” explains RBIF Curatorium chairman Jock MacKenzie. The appeal will run throughout 2012 with the aim of raising HUF 10-15 million (EUR 33,940-50,891) for the rebuilding of the principal surgical ward at SOTE II.
- “The Paralympics Appeal is being managed by the British Embassy and the Paralympics Association of Hungary,” says MacKenzie. Building on the interest generated by the London 2012 Olympics and the Budapest half-marathon on June 10, “the aim is to raise money to buy a specially equipped crew bus for Hungary’s junior Paralympics squad”. Depending on how much is raised, the hope will also be to buy some highly expensive purpose-built sports wheelchairs.
- A joint appeal with the AmCham Foundation will benefit Vas County. “We have been asked for our financial support to provide a HUF 5 million (EUR 16,961) blood-testing machine for one of the hospitals in Vas County,” MacKenzie explains.
- The RBIF will once again be working with Suits on Bikes, a group of fundraising cycling city slickers, who are part of Blythswood Care, which combines the Christian message with practical help for those in need, regardless of their political or religious beliefs or ethnic origins. “The appeal is to raise HUF 1.5 million (EUR 5,088) to help Suits on Bikes with its on-going project to build an afterschool centre for orphaned children in Jimbolia, Transylvania,” says MacKenzie. The centre runs a programme for children aged 10-15 from poor homes in the area. It aims to support them on a daily basis during school and contribute to the prevention of premature marriage, juvenile delinquency and unregistered child work. About half of the children have a Roma background.
- The final project is cultural. “We are looking for sponsors to build a statue to St Margaret of Scotland. Designs have been drawn up and the sculptor would like to go ahead, but we are currently trying to establish where would be the best location,” says MacKenzie. The life-size statue would cost in the region of HUF 8-9 million (EUR 27,137-30,525) but the project will only go ahead once all the criteria have been met, including exact location and fully documented costs.
St Margaret links Scotland, Hungary and England. An Anglo-Saxon princess, she was sister to Edgar Aethling (briefly proclaimed King of England after Harold II’s death at Hastings in 1066 but never crowned), daughter of Edward the Exile (who would probably have ascended to the throne after the death of his half-brother, Edward the Confessor, in 1065 had he not unexpectedly predeceased him), granddaughter of Edward Ironsides and great granddaughter of Ethelred the Unready (both kings of England) and a direct descendent of King Alfred the Great.
Exiled as a boy by King Canute as the Dane sought to solidify his hold on England, Margaret’s father Edward eventually ended up as a friend and aide to Hungary’s Endre I, also called András the White or András the Catholic. Thus Edgar, Margaret and their sister Cristina were born in Hungary. Their mother, Agatha, was at one time thought to be related to the king-saint István but was more likely the sister-in-law of King Endre I. Margaret married (and is to said to have civilised!) Máel Coluim mac Donnchada (Malcolm III) in 1070 or thereabouts, and is Scotland’s only royal saint!