Len takes Burns to Armenians

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THERE was a distinctly Borders flavour to Burns Night when it was celebrated in the Armenian capital of Yerevan last week.

Among the VIP guests were Jedburgh councillor Len Wyse and the town’s Royal British Legion Pipe Band pipe major, Ian MacDonald.

The Borders link did not end there, however, with those attending the supper also tucking into a dish of haggis supplied by Hawick butchers W. J. Hutton.

Mr Wyse, who was there in a private capacity, said the event had been highly enjoyable.

“We had a really good time in Yerevan. The locals and the Brits living over there – including a Hawick guy, Mark Lumsden – that we met were all fantastic,” Mr Wyse told TheSouthern this week. “On the Friday afternoon we presented the haggis to the UK ambassador, Kathy Leach, at the Cascade Complex. Saturday night was the Burns supper. This is run by the Armenian British Business Chamber and the UK embassy.”

The haggis was piped in by Pipe Major MacDonald and Mr Wyse did the honours by addressing the haggis. There was various other speeches, including one from former Jedburgh restaurant proprietor Charles Masraff, who is now back in the Borders after living in Armenia for five years. It was Mr Masraff who organised the Burns supper and arranged the participation of the Jedburgh guests.

Mr Wyse added: “The haggis was served as a starter with a whisky sauce and went down really well. There were about 200 people there on the night and the event raised over US$20,000 for local causes, including eye care and orphanages.

“British Midland donated the flights out and the Meg Hotel supplied the accommodation. The locals were well impressed with the kilted contingent, both at the events and around the city.”

As well as partaking of some Hawick-made haggis, those attending the supper also found on each of their tables a small proffering of another Borders delicacy.

“I also took about 100 small bags of Jethart Snails sweets with me and put a wee bag on each of the tables, along with some copies of our booklets on town trails in Jedburgh,” explained Mr Wyse.

“As always, they went down really well. I wasn’t attending the Burns supper in an official capacity as a councillor, but am always on the lookout for opportunities to promote the town of Jedburgh and the Borders.”