THE world's largest Burns Supper will this year celebrate its 10th

birthday when 1000 people will gather on Saturday, January 14, at the

Hospitality Inn, Glasgow, for the West Sound Radio's Burns Supper.

The 1000 will come, quite literally, ''frae a' the airts'' including

Russia, the United States and Japan.

''We did not intend it ever to be this way when we started,'' admitted

the man behind it all, West Sound manager Joe Campbell.

''I suppose I can only say that it was like Topsy. From the very

beginning it just grew.''

This year's Burns Supper will have author and columnist Jack Webster,

of the Herald, proposing the Immortal Memory. The Toast to the Lasses

will be by Buff Hardie, of Scotland the What, with the reply by Mamie


The line-up of artistes taking part includes Kenneth McKellar and

soprano Isobel Buchanan with readings by Tom Fleming.

The 1000 guests, each paying #40 a head to be present, will include

many who have attended every one of the West Sound Burns Suppers since

they were inaugurated in 1986.

Busloads arrive from all over Scotland and the North of England. The

event is an established international highlight for Burns enthusiasts,

and far ahead as the largest estimated half a million Burns Suppers the

Burns Federation say are now probably held throughout the world.

''It is all quite staggering that our Burns Supper is the largest,''

said Joe Campbell. ''Looking back, we decided in 1985 that West Sound,

being in the heart of Burns Country, should hold its own special Burns

Supper in 1986 to mark the bicentenary of the first edition of the

Kilmarnock edition of Burns's poems being published by John Wilson and

Sons in Kilmarnock in 1786.

''We thought we could hold it in an Ayr hotel and that we might

attract some 200 people.''

Moira Anderson was invited to take part. She suggested that John

Cairney could toast the Immortal Memory. He was joined by Andy Stewart

in what rapidly became a roll call of stars wanting to take part.

Eventually, outgrowing any Ayrshire hotel in size, the event was held

in the Hospitality Inn with 1000 guests and it has been located there

ever since.

''Over the years, our speakers have ranged from politicians like

Edward Heath, John Smith, and Malcolm Rifkind, to the hostage Tom

Sutherland who came very soon after his release in the Lebanon.

''Johnnie Walker whisky have been with us as main sponsors since Day

One. Other particularly supportive sponsors have included Aviall

Caledonian Engine Services, the International Aero engine maintaince

firm based at Prestwick.''

The West Sound event succeeds in combining quality with its quantity


In 1990, when a group of 40 Russians Burns enthusiasts flew in from

Moscow, the result was an invitation which resulted in Joe Campbell

taking out the singers and entertainers to present a Burns Supper in the


The gathering, which he chaired, was a Burns Supper for 800 people

held in the Palace of Congresses, the first social event to be held in

that building. Haggis was brought out from Scotland.

Things have not stopped there. This year, the West Sound singers and

entertainers will again be on the move. They have been invited out to

Denver, Colorado, where on January 28 the former Lebanon hostage Tom

Sutherland has organised a Burns Supper for the St Andrews Society of

Colorado. It will be attended by 750 guests.

''We are delighted at the way our Burns Supper is now recognised,''

said Joe Campbell. ''But I personally feel even greater pleasure at the

way in which I feel that each year in addition to entertaining

established Burns afficionados, we are also introducing the poems and

songs to more and more young people.

''To be at one of these suppers, to see these young people sit in

absolute total silence as they listen, totally caught up, is a

phenomenon of which I am totally proud.

''This year too we look forward to seeing The Young Burnsian of the

Year Award, a West Sound trophy given to the Burns Federation, presented

to the young violinist Gillian Risi, of Dundee, by our chairman Bill


''People of all ages, of all nationalities, some in corporate groups,

some in Burns clubs, but very many simply private individuals come

together in a way that richly encourages us.''