PM Rishi Sunak celebrates Scottish culture by observing Burns Night at Downing Street
Image by The NEN – North Edinburgh News
The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak celebrated Scottish culture on the evening of 25 January by hosting a reception in Downing Street to celebrate Burns Night.
Guests, including faith group leaders, were welcomed to the event with sounds of traditional bagpipes and drums, and enjoyed Scottish cuisine from stalls in an indoor-street market.
Deeney’s famous haggis toasties and Rapscallion’s fresh fruit sodas were on offer, and there were be a range of other businesses showcased as part of the event.
Deeney’s was set up by Carol and Paddy at a market in East London in the summer of 2012. Inspired by Carol’s Scottish roots, it has been a mainstay of London’s street food scene ever since, partly thanks to their famous ‘Macbeth’ haggis toastie, and they now have restaurants in both London and Tokyo.
Glasgow-based Rapscallion Soda was born in 2016 and has built a reputation for its inventive exotic flavours using raw ingredients, such as Burnt Lemon, Dry Lime and Rhubarb.
Those in attendance were offered a dram of the Isle of Raasay Distillery’s finest. Founded in 2017, the Inner Hebrides island’s first legal distillery produces both whisky and gin in its contribution to Scotland’s drinks exports, worth £4.2. billion in total in 2021.
Sunak also briefly interacted with fashion designer Siobhan Mackenzie about her innovative work reinventing tartan classics such as kilts, tailoring and accessories into contemporary styles.
In line with the tradition, Hugh McMillan, member of the Scottish Poetry Library, recited Robert Burns’ ‘A Man’s a Man for a’ That’ as well as a selection of other poetry.
PM Sunak with Khalid Raza (Image by The NEN – North Edinburgh News)
As part of the celebrations, Sunak took the opportunity to personally award Mr Khalid Raza, founder of the charity ‘Wheels to Heal’ with a Points of Light award.
It was the UK’s 1974th Points of Light award, recognising the outstanding contribution Raza has made to both his own community and countless others across the world.
After discovering 150 wheelchairs by chance in a landfill, Raza created ‘Wheels to Heal’ – a volunteering network which gives people access to wheelchairs and mobility aids.
Since its inception in 2015, the charity has funded and rescued 6,500 wheelchairs from landfill and 5,500 mobility aids from care homes, delivering them across the globe.