This year’s Burns Night supper was promoted to the status of a BPCC gala event, marking the highlight of the chamber’s social calendar for the winter 2018/19 season. Held this year in the Bristol Hotel’s Chopin Ballroom, the traditional celebration provided an opportunity to build economic and personal relations between Poland and Scotland. Above all, the cultural and historical links between the two countries are important – Scots have been present in Poland since the 16th century, Poles in Scotland since WW2. The tradition of the Burns Night supper has been upheld by the BPCC for many years, now emphasising the friendship between the two nations.
The evening began with words of welcome from BPCC chairman Tony Reczek and Ambassador Knott, after which the Guest of Honour – as ever, the Haggis – was piped in by Tomasz Ujma of the Częstochowa Pipes and Drums, after which the gathering toasted the Haggis by raising a glass of Uisghe Beathe (the water of Life – Black Label Johnny Walker, provided for the occasion by sponsor Diageo). Burn’s Address to a Haggis was vigorously recited by Iain Leyden from Europtima, as he plunged the skean dhu into the haggis’s groaning hurdies.
Dinner commenced after Ambassador Knott said the Selkirk Grace. Cullen Skink soup was followed by a main course of lamb shank. The keynote speech was delivered by Ivan McKee, who spoke about the value to Poland that Scottish business can add, in sectors such off-shore wind energy, food & drink, FinTech, advanced engineering and life sciences. In the 15th and 16th centuries, 30,000 Scots lived in Poland, he recalled. “Two countries linked by shared values and a love of freedom and social justice. Old friends should do more trade together!”
The Immortal Memory of Robert Burns was presented by Scotland’s trade envoy to Poland, Martyn O’Reilly, who summed up the life and times of the great poet. Several of his poems were read out – in Polish as well as in broad Scots. The Toast to the Lassies came Tony Reczek, while the Reply on Behalf of the Lassies was delivered by Elżbieta Pełka, who used it to deliver an impassioned promotion of female leadership: “if Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters, the crisis of 2008 wouldn't have had to happen.” Martyn O’Reilly concluded by singing A Man’s A Man For A’That and raising a toast to the immortal memory of Robert Burns, after which everyone joined in a spirited rendition of Auld Lang Syne – probably Burns’ best-known work across the English-speaking world.
After the official celebrations were over, there was time to sample some of the very best Scotch single malts available in Poland, courtesy of Diageo, including the magnificently sublime 37-year-old Port Ellen.
The BPCC would like to thank the evening’s sponsors, Scottish Development International, HSBC Bank Polska, Diageo Polska, British Automotive Centrum, authorised Jaguar Land Rover dealer, and the Bristol Hotel for hosting this event
Connection between Jaguar and Scotland
The legendary Scottish motor-racing team Ecurie Ecosse (which means 'Scottish Stable' in French) won the world-famous 24h Le Mans race, two years running in 1956 and 1957, in D-Type Jaguars. The D-Type was the forerunner of the iconic E-Type and the present-day F-Type.