Page last updated at 18:27 GMT, Saturday, 24 January 2009

Scots exiles prepare for supper

Many suppers will include piping in the traditional Scottish haggis

Thousands of exiled Scots in the South West marked the 250th anniversary of their national bard this weekend.

Burns suppers were planned in Devon, Cornwall, Jersey and Guernsey to celebrate the poet Robert Burns.

Scottish societies and Burns clubs organised the annual dinners, which normally include haggis.

"In some ways I'm even more Scottish since I moved down south - I wouldn't miss a Burns supper now," John Anderson from Cornwall said.

Mr Anderson, who is originally from East Kilbride, settled in Cornwall 12 years ago when he left the Royal Navy.

Immortal memory

He and a group of friends now celebrate Burns Night every year.

"I look forward to it and even though I don't eat it at any other time of year, I always enjoy my haggis," Mr Anderson told BBC News.

In the Channel Islands, the Scottish Society of Jersey organises functions throughout the year, including a celebration for St Andrew's Night, Burns Night and Hogmanay.

Haggis was also on the menu at the Old Government House Hotel in Guernsey.

More than 80 guests attended the Exeter and District Caledonian Society's annual supper on Friday.

Robert Burns
Robert Burns lived his whole life in Scotland and died at the age of 37

President Stewart McKinlay, who moved from Greenock to Devon in 1981, said the evening followed tradition with both guests and haggis piped in.

Plymouth Robert Burns Club, which was formed in 1948, addressed the haggis, toasted the lassies and the bard's immortal memory at its supper in Estover on Saturday.

The World Robert Burns Federation - which has members in Russia, Canada, Australia, Japan, Egypt and the United States - said an estimated 500,000 Burns suppers will be held at home and abroad over the weekend.

Born on 25 January 1759 in Alloway, Burns was a prolific writer, penning hundreds of poems and songs. He died in Dumfries at the age of 37, having never left his native land.

Maxwell Burns, the youngest of the poet's 12 children, was born of the day of his father's funeral.

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