Seventh Annual Burns Supper Breaks Fundraising Record

The Burns Supper and Ball is now firmly established as a highlight of Tbilisi’s social calendar, and a memorable time at the Funicular Restaurant was had by all 235 of the revellers on Saturday night who helped to raise a record-breaking 55,000 Lari for three charitable causes.

Organizer Fiona Coxshall, who devotedly puts together this thriving event every year, was delighted with another successful occasion: “People arrived in good form and stayed that way all night. They were in generous mood, and it is very satisfying to surpass last year’s total by so much (25%),” she said gleefully.

The proceeds - some of which came from a highly competitive auction in which one guest paid USD 500 for a bottle of millennium wine – will go to three worthy causes, namely the Temi Community in Eastern Georgia – caring for a wide range of vulnerable people, Catharsis - helping Tbilisi’s homeless elderly, and Dog Organization Georgia – providing shelter for stray animals along with sterilization, vaccination and homing programmes.

George Adamson, a native of the cathedral city of Brechin in northeast Scotland, got proceedings underway with the unmistakable sound of the bagpipes to summon high-spirited guests to their seats.

Not unlike a Georgian social event, the Burns Supper is laden with toasts and speeches, all of which are crucial to the authenticity and true purpose of the evening – to celebrate the life and works of the legendary Scottish poet Robert Burns.

Coxshall takes exceptional care in selecting the speakers, and this was rewarded again this year by some excellent deliveries including William Boyd who gave a suitably passionate Address to the Haggis, a poem dedicated to the Scottish delicacy of spiced sheep’s innards.

After the haggis had been consumed, washed down with the customarily bountiful supply of wine and whisky, Stuart Nelson gave his own refreshing Immortal Memory toast, traditionally the longest of the evening, which involved a modern take on Burns’ famous poem “To a Mouse”.

Burns was a notorious romantic, with much of his work dedicated to women, and accordingly it is tradition to toast the lassies (women), this year the duty of Andrew Coxshall, husband of organizer Fiona.

His poetic and humorous tribute to the fairer sex was met with uproarious laughter, while the toast to the laddies (men) given in response by Luba Protsiva was also warmly received.

With the formalities completed, guests were called to the dance floor by Nicol McLaren of the Glencraig Band for a Gay Gordons and a Dashing White Sergeant among other Scottish dances.

McLaren’s band was completed by Maggie Adamson and Isobelle Hodgson, and the well-travelled trio now consider Tbilisi a cemented part of their annual itinerary.

As billed on the tickets, the partying carried on until the wee hours with sales of sparkling Georgian mineral water no doubt rocketing the next day to address the inevitable drouth that follows a successful Burns Supper.

And the success of this year’s event was beyond doubt, with the revellers already counting down until next year’s edition.

As Betsy Haskell, an American resident of Tbilisi, put it: “as always, the best party of the year.”

Alastair Watt

04 February 2016 21:19