A UNIQUE fundraiser brought in the new year with a Russian flair last weekend.

The event was an opportunity to learn about traditions and culture while raising funds for a group of Wee County GPs and health professionals who are planning to go on a charitable expedition in Tanzania this year.

Event organiser Dr Sarah Zacheshigriva, friend Dr Claire Russell, Dr Fiona Collier, her daughter Dr Bethan Collier as well as district nurses Wendy Graham and Janie Hughes are all volunteering with the Vine Trust to deliver a medical project.

The team will travel to the east African country this year to support people who are isolated and have little to no access to medical services.

The event at The Hive, the former civic centre now in community hands, took place on Saturday, January 11, and was the perfect venue for the occasion.

The Old New Year or Orthodox New Year tradition relates to a time when Russia and some other countries in eastern Europe used the Julian calendar, something still done by some jurisdictions of the Orthodox Church.

It was officially observed yesterday (Tuesday, January 14), with the weekend chosen as the closest reasonable time for celebrations.

Naturally, vodka was on the table and Dr Zacheshigriva's husband Alexander was on hand to guide guests and explain traditions.

He sought to showcase good quality drink can be enjoyed responsibly, socially and in moderation along with a range of homemade traditional dishes.

Indeed, one inspiration for the event was a number of recent whisky and gin tasting experiences in the wider area.

Dr Zacheshigriva, who was inspired by former colleague at Alva Dr Russell to go on a humanitarian mission, explained: "It was about drinking not big amounts, but how to do it culturally and properly."

People had a brilliant time and some even asked for recipes so they could later recreate their favourite foods from the night.

There was also a raffle, with thanks given for the many donations, and more than £500 was raised, which will go some way toward the around £5,000 target for the group.

Thanks go to Alexander Zacheshigriva for hosting the night, Dollar Community Development Trust for letting the Hive, all who went along as well as those who were not there but have already donated toward the costs of the expedition.

The group will be hoping to make a real difference at Lake Victoria in Tanzania.

For more details, or to make a donation, visit bit.ly/2RbYfAz