For the second year running, I was invited by the Ukrainian Community in Edinburgh to attend the above function and what a night it was.

The Ukrainian Consul General, Mykhailo Osnach read out a '€œMessage to Burns'€ , by a Ukrainian writer who had been a great admirer of his works and this got the night off to a flying start.

Stefan Tymkewycz then proposed a toast to Shevchenko, who is to Ukrainians, what Burns is to us and regarded as their great national poet.

Their local priest, Rev. father Lubomyr Pidluski said the grace before dinner and here was an interesting man indeed. He had been a personal driver to a Soviet General during their occupation of Afganistan and came under attack from freedom fighters and was sure they would both be killed. He prayed and vowed that if he survived, he would dedicate the rest of his life to working for the Lord. He did and he has since leaving the Soviet Army and since independence for Ukraine he went to a seminary in Ukraine and has been in Scotland for 6 years, soon to be moving to Cambridge to a new charge.

Recitations from Shevchenko were given by a young student , Yulia Rabtsun and a small choir sung us some haunting Ukrainian songs. Although I couldn'™t understand what they were singing about, the passion came through both in the singing and recitations.

Chris Lyon, past president of Dumfries Howff Club, gave us the address to the haggis and toasted the lassies, while Edinburgh'€™s own  JST Band, provided a great selection of Burns/Scottish songs and dance tunes.

People often ask me if I never tire of attending so many Burns Suppers every year, but with such variety, as in the one above, how can I?

Many of the ladies and gents were dressed in the regional costums of their part of the Ukraine, which enhanced the night.

Jim Shields