- 6 May 2022 4:23 PM
To see pix galleries just follow these links for photos by Marko / Árpád / Marcus / Foxy Photos.
For starters here’s a quick quote from a famous guest, Dave Thompson, the English Stand-Up Comedian, Actor, & Writer:
"I had a brilliant evening enjoying the glamorous company of VIP’s and good-hearted guests. The speeches by the British and Ukrainian Ambassadors were both enlightening and moving. Plus there was loads of great drinks and party snacks.”
“The evening was hugely worthwhile as it raised money for UNICEF, gave people a fun night, and helped guests and sponsors make useful connections. The organser did a great job managing all the varied aspects. I even had a dance! A smashing success!"
Dave wasn’t joking either, as the round-up below of what happened shows. Next up are a few words from another English gentleman, Paul Fox, Her Majesty's Ambassador (pictured below with his daughter Eleanor).
“I was delighted to attend the St George’s Day celebration in Budapest, and I am grateful to XpatLoop.com for organising this inaugural event," said the UK's Ambassador.
"The local British community with our Hungarian and international friends have again shown that we are ready to give a helping hand to those in need.
This time, we raised funds for children and families in Ukraine. I couldn’t think of any worthier way to commemorate England’s national day,” he added.
Held on a Saturday night, this lively event allowed guests to have a good taste of England.
It included a wine and cheese reception, pairing both English and local cheese with wines from St George Hill near Balaton - plus whites, rosés and reds from around Hungary for good measure - there was English gin and whisky tasting too, and even a cricket display.
Presented in the truly magnificent Grand Ballroom at the Corinthia Budapest, the event brought together the international community to mark England’s national day, and also supported Ukraine under the #StandWithUkraine banner - raising money for children affected by the conflict there via a charity auction and raffle.
“This event did England proud! As expected, the team at XpatLoop put together a very enjoyable St George's Day event. With a raffle and auction helping Ukraine, the event had a good cause as well as allowing for the booze to flow in the best English Saturday-night tradition”, commented Dominic Arbuthnott, Chartered Accountant.
In recognition of his principles and bravery, St. George was made the Patron Saint of England by King Edward IV. Given the current climate, this event thoughtfully focused on the fact that St. George is an internationally celebrated saint, with a unifying quality.
Stephen Linfitt - an Englishman, publisher of XpatLoop.com and event director - noted that St. George’s Day is heralded as the arrival of spring in the traditional Ukrainian calendar, and that Hungary officially recognises this popular saint as do many other countries.
“Nationality is an accident of birth, and so the goal was to bring together XpatLoop.com readers of many nationalities to extend the bonds of friendship and solidarity in an enjoyable way to mark St. George's Day, whilst raising funds for children in Ukraine,” said Stephen (pictured below right).
"The story of St George, the patron of several nations, reminds us that there is much more that unites us than divides us in this world. We should particularly keep this in mind as we all desire peace. This event united participants to support the children in Ukraine. Thank you Xpatloop.com!" said Andrea Istenes Solti, Country Chair, Shell Hungary.
According to the legend of St. George, a village was being terrorized by a dragon, which the villagers appeased by paying tribute, first with trinkets and livestock (until they ran out) then with human sacrifice in the form of children, up until the selection of the local princess for sacrifice.
Horrified and outraged, George decided to take up arms against the unprovoked aggressor, risking his own life in an effort to slay the dragon. As he engages what seems an invincible beast, George notices a vulnerable patch under the dragon’s arm, which he attacks and kills the beast with his simple sword.
With the parallels of the parable of St. George and the situation in Ukraine clear, the evening was kicked off with a speech by His Excellency Paul Fox, who emphasized the UK’s commitment to the ideals of St. George and its solidarity with Ukraine.
The Ukrainian Ambassador to Hungary, Liubov Nepop, (pictured below right) gave a heart touching speech about the invasion of Ukraine and the country’s aspirations for peace, freedom, and democracy.
Her Excellency emphasised Ukraine’s gratitude to the assembled guests and to the international community at large for its solidarity and friendship, eliciting a spontaneous standing ovation from the whole audience.
Daniel J. Poisson, CEO of Dunapro, commented on this, “As my wife and I listened to Ambassador Nepop, we both felt her words as if they rushed through our bodies. This is a time for action and we will do all we can to support the Ukrainian people in their fight for democracy and survival.”
Also on stage Antónia Mészáros (pictured above left) the Executive Director of UNICEF Hungary, eloquently explained that her organization has been providing humanitarian assistance to millions of children and their families in Ukraine since Russia’s first incursion 8 years ago.
"Every child in Ukraine is suffering right now and they all need help. UNICEF doesn’t evacuate, when the going gets tough. We haven’t pulled out of Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover and we’re not leaving families to their fate in the Ukraine either," she said very articulately.
"In fact, we’re working to get more staff and more resources in continuously. Right now, there are 200 UNICEF colleagues working out of 5 regional offices offering all kinds of humanitarian help," outlined Antónia to the interest of guests.
Antónia also highlighted that UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) is reliant on donations to fund its relief operations, and explained how all the money raised in the event’s auction and raffle will go to support children and families affected by the current crisis in Ukraine.
‘St. George Red Roses’ were courteously presented to both the ladies who spoke on stage by Stephen Linfitt on behalf of everyone in the ballroom, as a mark of respect for what they both said and are currently doing to help children in need.
In this way red roses were highlighted as a symbol of St. George’s Day, and red roses adorned the tables in the ballroom thanks to lovingly prepared decorations by flowerMe.
Kudos is due to all the many event supporters who came together in unity to help make this event happen, especially worthy of mention is main sponsor Taxually, key sponsors Britannica International School, Samsung, Special Effects International, plus Jaguar Land Rover.
Rev. Frank Hegedűs, Priest at St Margaret's Anglican Church in Budapest, also made a powerful impact with his kind and wise address, he warmly greeted guests and blessed the event.
“St George’s Event on Saturday April 30th was a true hommage to English music and a cultural highlight in the Budapest Spring season. Thank you XpatLoop for a fabulous evening!” said Désirée Bonis, Ambassador of The Netherlands (pictured below in centre).
Also in attendance to show his support was Ronan Gargan, Ambassador of Ireland, who said,
“This celebration of St. George’s Day was a wonderful event, showcasing the best of what England has to offer, not least the great music that has emerged from England over the decades, which is enjoyed by legions of fans in Ireland."
"The night also had a very worthy cause, raising money for UNICEF and for its work supporting families and children affected by the war in Ukraine. Many thanks to XpatLoop.com for organising a thoroughly enjoyable evening!” the Ambassador of Ireland added (pictured below on right).
All guests were treated to unlimited tastes of fine wine from the Szászi Estate, Bencze Wine Estate and Gilvesy, all three appropriately from St. George Hill (Szent György-hegy) near Balaton.
Also present were Dúzsi Tamás Winery and Twickel Wine Estate, both of Szekszárd, Hilltop of Neszmély, and Szeremley Wine House of Badacsony, to name a few.
All the wine went down well together with English cheddar and local cheese from Tesco, and a great range of Halloumi style grilling cheese (a favourite of the English) was kindly provided by Kőröstej - served to perfection by the hotel's English chef Andy Gaskin (pictured below).
Wine connoisseurs and enthusiasts alike could test their palates at a blind tasting game powered by the team from Bortodoor City - lead by English lass Suze Collings.
Spirited guests could also choose from a local tasting bar serving pálinka from Dunapro, as well as a Unicum Cocktail Bar sponsored by Zwack, and drinks guru Dez O'Connell presented the English whisky and gin tasting sponsored by Cotswolds and WhiskyNET.
‘Cheers to XpatLoop.com for a memorable evening for an important cause. Great entertainment, hospitality and music!’ said Chris Dobson, Executive Partner at Aretera Public Affairs.
Teetotalers who didn't partake in the wine tasting were well taken care of as they could choose freely from a range of soft drink products thanks to Coca-Cola, there was water from NaturAqua, plus Costa Coffee was served after the band played to keep guests going strong.
The start of the evening had soothing and inspiring music by English composers providing a perfect warm-up atmosphere as guests chatted with old friends and made new contacts.
To give the evening a further classical touch, Budapest-based actor and communications consultant Alexis Latham treated the audience to a 'Funny Poetry' speech about Shakespeare, adding some literary culture to proceedings which he skillfully managed.
Chris Clarke remarked, “Great event, well organised, fun and informative”.
“The speeches from the MC and from HM Ambassador Paul Fox were educational as many of the attendees, included myself, were not fully informed of exactly what St George’s Day, or who St George, actually is!” Chris explained.
He continued, “The speech by the Ukrainian Ambassador reminded us, and brought home, what the crisis in Ukraine is doing to so many innocent people, what they are experiencing, all the struggles. We cannot forget this and we must keep up the momentum to carry on helping with charity fund raising and volunteer support from those of us who can help.”
Guests were dazzled by Eleanor Fox's classical vocal performance of 'Jerusalem' - the English poet William Blake’s hymn which has morphed into a contemporary sporting anthem.
The event then changed gears from classical to iconic English indie music, belted out by Budapest-based expat band The Vibe, which lured the increasingly ‘inspired’ guests to hit the dance floor and shake their stuff.
Those not wishing to shake-a-leg on the dancefloor could visit the English Sport Corner in association with the Hungarian Cricket Association, where guests caught up with local players and aspiring bowlers and batters donned cricket gear to have their pics snapped by FoxyPhotos.
Meanwhile gamblers could try their luck in roulette and blackjack, not for money but for fun and prizes from the Las Vegas Casino – key gifts were very English indeed: umbrellas.
With the audience primed for the charity element of proceedings, the prize auction and raffle was expertly hosted by TV star Zsuzsa Demcsák with event MC Alexis Latham.
They were supported by Ivett Angyal - who posed beautifully for photos with winners - and a team of UNICEF reps, such as Ildi Magyar who proved to be the superhero UNICEF volunteer of the evening.
Guests were encouraged to dig-deep and they did so with over HUF 2 million raised for the Hungarian National Committee of UNICEF toward their activities relating to the war in Ukraine.
After the charity forints rolled in to the sealed UNIFEC box, the increasingly ‘illuminated’ guests rolled back onto the dance floor, this time to tunes spun by DJ Woods.
Popular smart tech expert Andrew Woods saw to it that guests enjoyed celebrating their good deed of raising money for charity, with many having won great prizes, as they danced to top English tunes in the ballroom.
The prize sponsors are too many to name here, key donors include Corinthia Budapest, artist Boglárka Nagy, FirstMed, Jaguar Land Rover, Matild Palace Luxury Hotel, Costes Ráday, The Ritz-Carlton Budapest, GoodSpirit Whisky & Cocktail Bar, and Royal Club Hotel Visegrád.
In this the Platinum Jubilee year of HM Queen Elizabeth II, as events in Ukraine now show, St. George’s legend - of how barbaric aggression and appeasement leading to further loss can be reversed by bravery and struggle against the odds to achieve victory - is no less relevant today than in St. George’s time in the third century AD.
To conclude this review, this event’s focus on roses and the musical side of Englishness worked well, it helped unite guests, and with so much inspiring material available the event managed to showcase a wide variety of sounds and so suit all tastes.
Be it the classical pieces by Handel at the start, to the live band exclusively playing English numbers - by The Beatles, Coldplay, Blur, Joy Division, The Cure, and more - with dynamic guitar solos and fine harmonies.
To round off the night the DJ played a top selection of English pop classics, getting guests dancing to the likes of the Eurythmics hit Sweet Dreams.
A farewell gift of a red rose was given to the ladies as the departed, sponsored appropriately by Dr Rose Private Hospital, and the last guests left in the small hours of Sunday morning after a full night of party fun at the first big St. George’s Day bash in Budapest.
“Hopefully you’ll organise another one next year - no pressure :) Anyway thanks for organising an excellent St Georges Day Budapest event in 2022, my better half and I really enjoyed it. But most importantly it was for a very good cause, well done!” said Richard Holmes, the Principal at Gerrards Wealth Management.
The last word here goes to Liubov Nepop, Ambassador of Ukraine to Hungary:
“It was my honour to attend the St. George’s Day celebration in Budapest, which was a well-organized, high-level event. The atmosphere of unity that prevailed was amazing."
Her Excellency continued, "I was among true friends, who while celebrating England’s national day showed support to my country and Ukrainians, who are suffering the terrible consequences of brutal aggression."
"I would like to convey my sincere gratitude to XpatLoop.com for their hard work in organizing the event, and to all the guests for their donations to UNICEF as well as for standing with Ukraine,” Ambassador Nepop concluded.
Words by Connall Charlton
Pictures by Marko Novkov / Árpád Bakcsy / Marcus Schirrmacher / Foxy Photos.
Platinum Sponsors: Taxually
Diamond Sponsors: Jaguar Land Rover, Kőröstej, Tesco
This inaugural event was also made possible thanks to the kind support of:
Ivett Angyal, Paul Fox, Mike Glover, Jonathan Pace, Neil McGarry, Anikó Woods.