To be elected President of the Robert Burns World Federation is the ultimate accolade for any Burnsian and I am keen to take the Federation forward following the hard work and dedication of my immediate predecessors, Jim Thomson and Jane Brown.
Like many organisations, we face a number of challenges as we seek to strengthen and enhance the reputation of the Robert Burns World Federation as the fount of all knowledge on all things in relation to Robert Burns.
I know that his work inspired and excited me when I was at school, but I also know that there followed a significant gap when I lost sight of the Bard for several decades. Our real challenge is to find a way of maintaining the strong links, forged via our Annual Schools Competitions, such that younger people in their teens, twenties and thirties retain an active interest via their local Burns Clubs and the Federation. We have a number of Burns Clubs who are succeeding in this regard, but unfortunately they are in the minority. If we can share their best practice, we have the opportunity to ensure that we have more of an age balance than we currently enjoy.
I would encourage everyone associated with the Robert Burns World Federation to come forward with their thoughts and ideas thereby helping the Board to establish an appropriate plan of action for our future development.
Bearing all that in mind, I would take this opportunity to thank our Past President, Jim Thomson, for his excellent leadership as we worked together to strengthen the Federation finances to allow us to go forward with confidence in the coming years. Jim’s unstinting efforts, at a time when his health was giving him challenges, are testimony to a man, steeped in Burns and who is dedicated to working for the wellbeing of the Robert Burns World Federation. I eagerly anticipate wearing that wonderful chain of office which Jim has worn with such distinction.
My first official engagement following our Annual Conference will be the Tam O’Shanter Competition at The Globe, Dumfries for quickly followed by a trip to Canada for the Seventh Jolly Beggars Banquet in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
In conclusion, I am looking forward to meeting Burnsians worldwide during my term in office and I will be delighted to hear from our members with their thoughts and aspirations for the Federation. Meantime, if you have any concerns then please raise them with me and I will do everything in my power to ensure that they are addressed. Your support in taking our organisation forward will be greatly appreciated.
Dr Peter T Hughes OBE