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Robert Burns Humanitarian Award

Part of the annual Burns an' a' that! Festival celebrations, the RBHA is supported by South Ayrshire Council.

Burns award logo

The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award is a globally-respected honour bestowed annually on a group or individual who shows selflessness and dedication in a bid to save, enrich or improve the lives of others through the protection and promotion of human rights and work to deliver social reform.

Named in honour of Scotland's son, Robert Burns, this much sought after humanitarian award applauds the efforts of people who bring hope and inspiration, often in desperate situations, and help change lives for the better.

Mark Williamson - 2021 winner

The 2021 RBHA Winner is Mark Williamson. Mark is the founder of 'Sweet For Addicts', a non-profit recovery-based theatre group based in Glasgow. Mark formed the group in 2006 and has since worked with hundreds of people as they journey their way out of addiction.

Mark does not hold auditions but instead offers everyone the opportunity to be involved in a positive way, whether that's choosing to go on stage and act, sing or dance, or to play an important role through the lighting, sound and prop preparation.

Since 2006, Mark has taken Sweet For Addicts to venues throughout Scotland to perform more than 20 plays, many of which he has written or directed.

Read more in our press release.

View information on the 2021 finalists.

About the award

As Scotland's National Bard, Robert Burns is celebrated as a pioneer of his generation, with his dynamic vision inspiring the founders of socialism and liberalism. The humanitarian values he embraced in his short life are captured for eternity in his rousing world famous works which are now his legacy. Burns' work continues to inspire people from all walks of life and in all corners of the globe.

The Robert Burns Humanitarian Award is supported by South Ayrshire Council. The winner receives a specially commissioned award handcrafted in Scotland and the equivalent of 1759 guineas - a sum which signifies the year of the Bard's birth and the coinage in circulation at the time - equating to £1,800 in today's currency.

Burns is one of Scotland's favourite icons, encapsulating the very essence that makes Scots Scottish. More information about how to celebrate Burns' Day and the life of the Bard himself can be found at

The Robert Burns Humanitarians

Information on the current and previous winners.