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Aberdeen-born diplomat hosts first ever Burns Supper at UK embassy in Argentina

Kirsty Hayes
Kirsty Hayes

An Aberdeen-born diplomat will host the first-ever Burns Supper held at the UK embassy in Argentina.

Ambassador Kirsty Hayes will lead to toasts to the legendary bard after inviting 30 dignitaries to her official residence in Buenos Aires.

Ms Hayes has family roots in Alloway, the birthplace of Robert Burns so has always felt a strong connection.

Her grandmother also shares the same name as the bard’s first child’s mother, Elizabeth Paton.

The 44-year-old said: “My family’s Alloway roots mean Burns Night has always been a big thing for us and I’m reliably informed that this will be the first time the Embassy in Buenos Aires has hosted a Burns Supper.

‘No complaints about the whisky’

“I was born in Aberdeen, but my father was from Alloway, and even though we moved about a fair bit growing up, we always visited Ayrshire on holiday to see my granny and my aunt.

“Burns’ first child was born illegitimately to a servant girl Lizzie Paton and that’s my gran’s name, so maybe there’s a family connection.

“I’ve always loved going to Burns Suppers and although this inaugural event is small because of the Covid situation, the plan is to build on this for the future when things get back to normal again.”

Ms Hayes spearheaded the embassy’s first St Andrew’s Day bash for 70 people last year, which celebrated the Argentine government reducing tariffs on Scotch whisky.

Haggis, with mashed potatoes, mashed swede and a wee dram of Scotch whisky.

She said: “It was the first time haggis had been served at the ambassador’s residence in Buenos Aires. The cook did not put it inside the stomach, but it tasted really good. They made cranachan and tried to make tablet, although that did not turn out as well. They’re going to have another go for Burns Night.

“My Argentine guests told me they loved the haggis, but one of my Argentine staff suggests they were being diplomatic, although there were definitely no complaints about the whisky.”

Role as an ambassador

Ms Hayes was appointed to her role as an ambassador in September, replacing Mark Kent, who is now the chief executive of the Scottish Whisky Association.

She added: “It drives me mad if I’m introduced as the ‘English’ Ambassador, so that’s why celebrating Burns Night and St Andrew’s Day is always important to me.

“A lot of the commentary in Argentina following my appointment picked up on the fact that I am Scottish and was born in Aberdeen.”

During the Cop26 climate change conference, she supported the Argentinian delegation on their trip to Glasgow.

She added: “There’s a St Andrew’s Society, and there are several pipe bands and quite a lot of Highland dancing as well. I’m looking forward to attending one of Scotland’s rugby matches against Argentina here in July.”

Fellow Scot and former Ayrshire resident Fiona Lappin will be addressing the haggis at a Burns Supper in neighbouring Brazil.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss added: “This Burns Night, I want to salute the many Scots at the heart of delivering UK foreign policy as a force for good around the world.

“Kirsty and Fiona’s stories highlight how the UK Government is using its extensive consular network to strengthen friendships and open up trading opportunities for Scottish industry.”

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