A VIRTUAL Burns Supper has taken a local charity’s fundraising efforts past the quarter of a million-pound mark.


‘Burns Fae Forres’, which attracted an audience of over 250 people from across the globe, raised £2215 for the Moray Emergency Relief Fund (MERF), taking its total donations so far to £251,500.

The event on Burns Night was organised by Flying Mirrors Photography and Video owners Alex Wright and Sara Brockbank, and Claire Doughty, who runs a publicity and events company.

Claire said: “We are thrilled with the amount that has been raised. We pulled this together in just under three weeks and have been overwhelmed with the support, not just from people willing to perform or present, but from the audience who joined us from everywhere, including America, Australia and Brazil!”

Managing director of AJ Engineering, Alan James, performed the address to the haggis, with Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead starting off proceeding with ‘The Selkirk Grace’.

Whisky brand ambassador Struan Ralph and local bistro owner Ruth Scott did the toast to the lassies and the response. Forres resident Kathleen Robertson took control of the Immortal Memory.

The evening also included singing, poetry, a piper and fiddle player, ceilidh dancing and a performance of Highland dancers who joined the event all the way from Canada.

The MERF was set up last April by the Lieutenancies of Moray and Banffshire to support people, charities and organisations facing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Alex said: “It was a great evening made even better knowing that we have helped the MERF smash the quarter of a million-pound mark. The feedback from the performers and the audience has been great.”

As well as welcoming the Dunvegan Dance Academy from Canada, Burns Fae Forres also showcased local musicians. Jonathan Scott from the Forres and District Pipe Band piped in the haggis and there were performances from fiddle players Sarah Perricone and Ewen Brindle and singer Heather Hatch who performed ‘Green Grow the Rashes’. Stewart Friendship read a poem whilst guests were encouraged to dance with a ‘living room’ ceilidh run by Peter Vallance. The event was rounded off with a performance of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ by Mod Gold medallist Eilidh Davies.

The youngest performer of the night was seven-year-old Gracie Schofield who danced the Highland Fling.

Moray Lord Lieutenant Major General Seymour Monro, who also represents the MERF, hosted the online event.

He said: “What a fantastic evening made even more poignant by the fact that its helped to push the fund over £250,000. We are getting requests for help every day, so these extra funds are vitally important.”

He added: “Burns Fae Forres was my first ever online Burns Supper, but it had all the traditional aspects and some wonderful extras too which made a really fun night full of Scottish entertainment.”