“I give my oath that I will uphold the honour of the Robert Burns World Federation by word and deed and will endeavour throughout my term in office to promote, educate and celebrate the life and works of Robert Burns, the Scots Language and our culture of universal brother and sisterhood.”

The RBWF President's Address 2020 can be viewed at youtu.be/UikYqPzsWfg

When I started on this journey in the RBWF candidacy, I dedicated my address to my friend the late George Anderson and with the love and support of my lovely Mum who at the time was still alive. I would therefore like to dedicate this year in office to their memory in thanks for the support they always gave me.

How wonderful it is to see so many people who have joined us from so many countries around the globe, yet again proving that we are an international Federation with world reach.

It is usual upon taking office to give a few comments on the role and the aspirations I might have. It is also my duty to congratulate the Past President for his service to the Federation in the preceding twelve months. Since Lockdown it has been a very difficult year and Brian has done his utmost to preserve the dignity and duty of the office he held. Covid has made the ceremonial aspect of the Presidential role almost impossible. That he has done his best, I do not doubt, and his legacy will be there for all to see. This is something I want to dwell on for just a moment. Each of us who rise to this high position, should do so to uphold the honour of the Federation, to work with the Board and the members to develop the reach and the purpose of the Federation. At the end of the year when our time is done, there is a risk that we will simply be another name on the Chain of Office, so it is my opinion that whilst in Office, our legacy should aim to be the improvement of this organisation.

It is my belief that the Federation needs to move forward to recognise the potential of new technology and new ways of communicating, whilst also cherishing the heritage and traditions that have served the organisation well. This is certainly my intention. 

Over the next few months I hope the Board will adopt some new initiatives which you our members will value and come to see as worthwhile projects and will want to engage with. One idea that I want to mention now is the intention to set up an Immortal Memory Book, wherein the record of past members whether of high office or not will be recorded with a hope it might also be put up on the RBWF website. 

We must be increasingly fleet of foot to adapt to an ever changing world to engage with new projects  and festivals such as Tamfest, the Robert Burns Humanitarian Awards, the Centre for Robert Burns Studies and of course our newly forged connection in academia with the Edinburgh University Press, who will from this time produce the world renowned Chronicle on our behalf.

Before I finish I want to extend a special and particular welcome to all members, clubs and associations to link with us, communicate with us and carry the banner of the Robert Burns World Federation to every country of the globe.