XpatLoop Gala Raises HUF 4.6 mln for Children’s Charities

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A packed house of guests from Hungary’s international community united to “Feel Good and Do Good” at XpatLoop’s 19th anniversary celebration, raising HUF 4.6 million for Hungarian children in need.

Some of the key sponsors and supporters: (From left) Gergely Papp, Budapest Marriott Hotel; Dennis A. Diokno, FirstMed Budapest; Stephen Linfitt, Publisher of XpatLoop.com; TV presenter Zsuzsa Demcsák; Éva Patzauer, Magic Lamp Foundation; British Ambassador Iain Lindsay; and master of ceremonies Hans Peterson.

Held on November 2, the annual Xpat Charity Gala took, as usual, the traditional British theme of the Guy Fawkes’ Bonfire Night with Special Effects International arranging a virtual bonfire and big screen fireworks display (along with all the event’s other various audio and visual elements).

Welcome drinks were served from the start, along with a range of appetizers. Main alcoholic drink sponsor Zwack Unicum ensured guests could get into the spirit from arrival. The Coca-Cola Company also provided a wide range of soft drink refreshments all evening, and Nespresso served top quality coffee options throughout the event. Craft beers and cider were available, alongside wines from some of Hungary’s top vintners, traditional Hungarian pálinka and single-malt Scotch whiskies.

Once the welcome zone was full, the doors were opened to the Grand Ballroom of the recently refurbished Budapest Marriott Hotel, the host of the event for the fourth year.

The gala was officially opened by guest of honor Iain Lindsay, the British Ambassador to Hungary. With a virtual bonfire burning bright behind him, the British Ambassador referenced the U.K. tradition of celebrating the arrest of Guy Fawkes on November 5, 1605, which foiled the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament.

Charity Choir

Lindsay then fronted a Charity Choir in a special rendition of the Hungarian blues song “Jég Dupla Whiskyvel” (“Double Whisky With Ice”). The choir was a “supergroup” of event supporters and VIPs, including Sándor Zwack, whose eponymous firm ensured there was more than enough Scotch Whisky to live up to the song. Lindsay, who sung in Hungarian, was delighted with the charity gala.

“Well done to XpatLoop for organizing a fantastic Bonfire Night party, it was the best one in my time here,” he said. Lindsay described it as, “a lovely event which raised an impressive total for Hungarian children’s charities. A huge thanks to all those who contributed so generously. And to all those who joined me in singing ‘Jég Dupla Whiskyvel’!”

That was followed by an international buffet featuring a wide range of culinary offerings provided by many of Budapest’s finest restaurants and caterers. Out on the ballroom terrace, guests enjoyed BBQ dishes and gourmet delights.

After dinner, Master of Ceremonies Hans Peterson (who had earlier made a theatrical performance in a Guy Fawkes mask and recited part of the traditional Bonfire Night Verse set to a dramatic soundtrack), took charge of proceedings, together with TV star, author and model Zsuzsa Demcsák.

One of the highlights, and a key fundraising element of the night was a Live Auction, offering a range of generously donated items. Yet more was raised through the silent auction.

Live music came in a number of forms, from Ian O’Sullivan who sang in the welcome zone, to Steve Collison and Marcello Maruccia who played relaxed versions of rock and pop tunes. Later, Ricky Party’n Band got guests dancing to live versions of pop hits, and finally DJ Andrew Woods entertained guests until 1 p.m. At the end, Stephen Linfitt, the founder of XpatLoop.com and organizer of this charity gathering for 15-plus years, thanked everyone involved.

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