10th Annual 'A Celebration of Scotland's Treasures' Gala

D. Brenton Simons presented documentary filmmaker Ken Burns with the Great Scot Award. Matt Gillis Photography

On March 29, 2017 we gathered for the 10th anniversary of A Celebration of Scotland’s Treasures, at New York’s Metropolitan Club. The Foundation honored Ken Burns with the Great Scot Award. Mr. Burns, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, was presented with the award by D. Brenton Simons, noted historian and President and CEO of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. The event raised over $350,000 in support of the National Trust for Scotland, that countries largest conservation charity.

Over the past decade, the festive evening has become known for its celebration of Scottish tradition, from whisky and haggis to poetry and dancing. For the 10th anniversary, the décor honored the many conservation and restoration projects supported by the Foundation.

Gala Co-Chair, Paula Kirby with Honorary Chair, Jill Joyce. Matt Gillis Photography.

Guests were welcomed by a bagpiper and the evening began with a cocktail hour including tastings by The Macallan and Snow Leopard Vodka. Burns’ Ode To A Haggis was enthusiastically recited by auctioneer for the evening, Alasdair Nichol, Vice Chair of Freeman’s, America’s oldest auction house and frequent appraiser on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow.  This year’s gala was co-chaired by Paula Kirby and Peter McWhinnie, Elizabeth Owens, Michael Scott-Morton, and Naoma Tate. Jill Joyce was the evening’s honorary chair.

Mr. Simons shared fond recollections of working with Mr. Burns on his genealogical research and his relations to Abraham Lincoln, the Roosevelts and Robert Burns. He lauded Mr. Burns for one who “challenges us to value our legacies and preserve them” and how poignant that Scotland’s bard and “America’s bard are branches from the trunk of the same great family tree.” Accepting the award, Mr. Burns charmed the audience with stories of his grandmother telling him they were related to Robert Burns, considered family folklore until a recent DNA test proved it to be true, and his visit to Ayrshire with his daughter where he saw a portrait of Burns for the first time, noting the undeniable resemblance. On discovering this relation, he said it was “one of the greatest moments in my entire life.” Following the award presentation auctioneer Alasdair Nichol moved quickly into a rousing live auction presentation that included exclusive Scottish vacation packages, sporting activities, and private, behind-the -scenes tours through Scottish castles and museums.

Mark Bishop and Simon Skinner, CEO of the National Trust for Scotland. Annie Watt Photography

More than three hundred guests, including Simon Skinner, CEO of the National Trust for Scotland, reveled late into the evening, enjoying traditional Celtic music performed by Scottish vocalist Maureen McMullan & Friends with Scottish country dancing and a full-blown cèilidh. Another star of the evening was the recently restored 18th-century violin from the NTS collection belonging to Robert Burns’ tutor William Gregg. It was used to accompany Burns’ dance lessons at the Bachelors’ Club in Ayrshire around 1779 and guests enjoyed dancing to it last night. In true Scottish fashion the evening concluded with all joining in singing Robert Burns’ Auld Lang Syne.


Alexander McCall Smith, Alan Cumming, Christopher Forbes, Mrs. Thomas J. Hubbard, The International Alliance for the Advancement of Scottish Roots Music, Ian Gow, The Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, Billy Connolly, Phyllis Logan, Ken Burns

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For more information, please contact Maggie Fogel at 212-873-2955 or mfogel@ntsusa.org

2016 A Celebration of Scotland’s Treasures

Event Partners

A Celebration of of Scotland’s Treasures is generously supported by the following event partners. Proceeds from the gala support the conservation of the natural, built, and cultural treasures cared for by the National Trust for Scotland.

The Macallan

The Macallan is one of the world’s most awarded and admired single malts. This peerless reputation has been built by the commitment of The Masters of Spirit and Wood, the craftsmen at the heart of The Macallan since it was legally licensed in 1824. Their unfaltering obsession with selecting exceptional oak casks and distilling sublime spirits brings an unsurpassed, timeless quality to The Macallan.

Available for tasting during reception and dancing, and for toasting during dinner.

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Connoisseurs Scotland

Luxury Scotland is your gateway to the very best of Scottish Luxury & Boutique Hotels. Wonderful locations, warm Scottish hospitality, great food and service to match. Luxury Scotland partners include the finest golf resorts in the world, incredible castles, outstanding city centre properties, delightful country house hotels and boutique hotels, the ultimate luxury train and the finest hotel afloat. Journey with us, and we will open doors for you that to other people remain closed.

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Scottish Gourmet USA

Scottish Gourmet USA, long-time corporate partner of The Foundation, is the go-to resource for anyone looking for Scottish fare and gifts in America.

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Auction and Gift Bag Partners

The live and silent auction, as well as the evening gift bags, are made possible by the generosity of the following partners. Proceeds from the auction support the conservation of the natural, built, and cultural treasures cared for by the National Trust for Scotland.

Photography highlights from the 2017 'A Celebration of Scotland's Treasures'

Contact Details

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Boston, MA 02108

Telephone: 617-227-7500
Fax: 617-227-4200

Email: mail@ntsusa.org