11th Tbilisi Burns Supper Raises over 80K for Charity

On February 1, the hotel Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace hosted the 11th charity gala event held in honor of renowned 18th century Scottish poet, Robert Burns.

Raising over 80 thousand GEL for charity, the evening followed the long tradition of Burns Suppers, with sumptuous food and plentiful drink, punctuated by toasts and Scottish country dancing.

“We gathered to once again celebrate the life and work of prominent Scottish poet Burns. This year’s event was especially exciting for those interested in Scottish poetry, music and cuisine. This is a charity project. With the funds raised through the charity auction and raffle, we help three selected beneficiaries in Georgia,” said one of the organizers of the event, Alastair Watt.

Guests were greeted by the incomparable sound of traditional Scottish bagpipes, and the festivities were opened with Burns’ poems and a presentation of the traditional Scottish delicacy, haggis. The Parade of the Haggis, led by piper Kenny Donaldson, was both emphatic and impressive.

The celebration was attended by over 200 guests. Among the honorable attendees of the event were US Deputy Chief of Mission Elizabeth Rood, Dutch–Georgian activist and diplomat Sandra Elisabeth Roelofs-Saakashvili, Turkish Ambassador Fatma Seren Yazgan, newly appointed US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan and the UK Ambassador to Georgia, Justin McKenzie Smith.

Elizabeth Rood stole the show with her poetic reply to the toast to the lassies, using some Georgian words that many otherwise struggle to pronounce.

Three charitable causes, Temi Community (caring for a wide range of vulnerable people), Catharsis (helping the homeless elderly by providing hot meals) and Dog Organization Georgia (providing shelter for stray animals along with sterilization, vaccination and adoption programs), will each receive a very welcome financial boost after this 11th successful and much-enjoyed celebration of Burns Night.

“All three charities have a proven record of doing tremendous work for the community, so we know that all money raised is going to be put to excellent use,” Watt told GEORGIA TODAY. “When doing such a major event, it’s important to have absolute trust in the beneficiaries, and we certainly have that. It’s also a broad spectrum of causes, meaning that the funds raised can have a positive impact on various people and aspects of Georgia”.

The charity auction raised nearly $15,000, including big winning bids for artist Levan Mosiashvili artworks. The raffle was similarly successful, as tickets worth over 7000 GEL were sold, with the victors picking up various wonderful prizes.

The guests were particularly impressed with the traditional Scottish dishes served, among them haggis with tatties, but the Butterscoth and Pear Tart served for dessert was for many the true highlight.

During the event, guests got to enjoy live music performed by the Glencraig Band, who fly in every year to play in Tbilisi: Nicol McLaren (accordion), Isobelle Hodgson (piano), and Maggie Adamson (fiddle).

Old hands at Scottish dance led eager learners in bouncy and jolly jigs across the dancefloor in a party that ran on, as promised, “well into the wee hours”.

Event organizers Maite Iniesta Ortiz, Sara Anna Modzmanashvili-Kemecsei, Oliko Watt and Alastair Watt all expressed their pleasure that the Burns Supper tradition in Tbilisi had been continued successfully for another year, despite the departure from Tbilisi of its magnificent originator Fiona Coxshall, in 2017.

“We hope to have done Fiona proud again," the organizers said.

By Ana Dumbadze

06 February 2020 16:33