Extraordinary Burns Supper - connecting with the international alumni community

The University of Aberdeen brought together alumni from around the world for an 'Extraordinary Burns Supper' to celebrate the spirit of Robert Burns with performances of his poetry, music, and songs.

Produced and organised by Fiona Kennedy, Professor Paul Mealor and the University’s Development and Alumni Relations team, the virtual event premiered on Monday, January 25 at 7.30pm and can be viewed here.

Guest of honour Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay, Chancellor of the University, pre-recorded a recital of her favourite Burns poem for the event.  Students, staff, and international stars including ‘Game of Thrones’ actor Iain Glen, ‘Call the Midwife’ actress and Aberdeen alumna Laura Main, and actors John Bett and George Drennan also featured.

The event was introduced by singer Fiona Kennedy and renowned broadcaster Mark Stephen addressed the haggis accompanied by piper Norman Fiddes, before a toast to Robert Burns from Jim Brown MBE and reflections on Aberdeen from Professor James N’Dow.

Recent graduates Matthew Kilner, Peter MacPherson and Iona Rae, and current student Georgia-May Drennan featured alongside excerpts from their chart-topping album ‘Immortal Memory’ performed by the University of Aberdeen Chamber Choir conducted by Paul Mealor.

Fiona Kennedy said: “This was a fantastic, unique event which brought some lovely surprises along the way. It was a truly fun and extraordinary way to highlight and celebrate the work of Robert Burns as well as the huge range of talent within the University’s community.”  

The event was organised in aid of the University’s COVID-19 525 Bursary Fund, which launched in April 2020 to support students facing severe financial hardship as a result of the ongoing global pandemic.

Katrina Allan, Head of Alumni Relations & Regular Giving, said: ‘‘The event was open to all and free to attend but we raised more than £33,000 from donations which was fantastic. We are always hugely grateful for the generosity shown by our global alumni and donor family, but especially during the past nine months. It has been a particularly difficult time and we’re grateful that their support has allowed us to help so many students in challenging circumstances. ”

Rob Donelson, Executive Director of Advancement, said: “We were delighted to have so many wonderful performers take part in our Extraordinary Burns Supper and come together with our international community for this key part of Scottish culture. It’s important that we can keep up tradition despite the challenges we all face at the moment, and by sharing this event with a global audience we hope that it helped keep our Aberdeen family connected, no matter where they are in the world.”