Queen’s Birthday Honours: Aberdeen Burns’ enthusiast Helena Anderson-Wright toasts honours accolade

Helena Anderson-Wright
Helena Anderson-Wright

An Aberdeen woman who has more than tripled north-east youth participation in a Robert Burns competition has been awarded a British Empire Medal.

Helena Anderson-Wright has spent more than 20 years encouraging youngsters to learn the works of the National Bard.

She said: “I felt elated opening the letter informing me of the honour and I have a sincere feeling of gratitude towards those who felt me worthy of it.”

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Mrs Anderson-Wright’s enthusiasm and knowledge of his poetry and music has helped the Robert Burns World Federation School Festival to flourish in the north-east, with more than 300 youngster taking part every year.

The contest is a regional heat ahead of the Scottish finals, winners of which have gone on to perform at sell-out events, the Westminster parliament and before first ministers and prime ministers.

Her work has also helped numerous charities and, through Burns Suppers and other events and projects, the local branch has raised more than half a million pounds for good causes.

Inspired by her father William Anderson’s work in Glasgow’s Burns competitions growing up, Mrs Anderson-Wright said she has had her passion for Burns “all her life”.

Moving to Aberdeen nearly 30 years ago with husband Robert, she set up the north-east schools contest upon finding out there was nothing similar here.

The mother-of-three said she was accepting the British Empire Medal on behalf of everyone in the Burns federation.

“It’s not really about me,” she said.

“It’s about everyone who helped, it’s about the young people and the good we’ve done through the competitions and charitable events.”