Sep 022017
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

Go4Set allows school pupils opportunities to meet with industry leaders and gain insight into the careers which studying science, engineering, technology and maths may lead to.

A scheme which encourages young people in Aberdeen to get involved with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) has received a welcome donation from Aberdeen Charitable Foundation.

The global financial firm has previously sponsored the Engineering Development Trust’s Go4Set programme in London and
Edinburgh, and has now set its sights on aiding students in the north east of Scotland.

Throughout the 10-week Go4Set scheme, 12 to 14-year-old pupils from secondary schools across Aberdeen will get the opportunity to work with industry mentors on environmentally-themed STEM projects.

By working with industry leaders, they will be able to gain an insight into industries that they may work in themselves one day, seeing theoretical knowledge they have gained in the classroom put to real-world uses.

Helen Anderson, director of the Education Development Trust, says:

“Go4Set allows school pupils an unrivalled opportunity to meet with industry leaders and gain a greater insight into the career paths which studying science, engineering, technology and maths may take them on. The students who participate are all volunteers, meaning they are passionate about the subjects and eager to learn more. Aberdeen Charitable Foundation’s generous £1,194 donation will help us to continue to run Go4Set for pupils in and around Aberdeen, inspiring future STEM pioneers.”

Research has shown that by exposing younger pupils to STEM-related employers and allowing them an insight into the world in which they could find themselves in the future, more students choose to continue studying STEM courses at Higher and Advanced Higher level, and onwards to university.

Claire Drummond, head of charitable giving for Aberdeen Charitable Foundation, says,

“The Engineering Development Trust’s Go4Set programme is incredibly popular with pupils and employers across the country, allowing them to interact with each other to jointly discover the future of STEM subjects. STEM is integral to the work we do, so we are thrilled to be able to support a scheme which encourages young people to pursue these topics.”

For more information on the Engineering Development Trust and Go4SET, visit www.etrust.org.uk

For more information about the Charitable Foundation, visit http://aboutus.aberdeen-asset.com/en/aboutus/responsible-business/aberdeen-charitable

Aug 252017
 

With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates.

George Reid (foreground with green jacket) dressed in his Lonach Highlanders outfit.

One of the runners taking part in this Sunday’s inaugural Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run will have one of the most unusual warm-up routines of any participant.

George Reid of Tomatin will take part in a six-mile march and a four-mile hill race the day before he competes in the Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run 10k race.
The 63-year-old is a member of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, which holds its annual Highland Gathering and Games on Saturday, 26 August in the Aberdeenshire village of Bellabeg.

The event features the unique march of the Lonach Highlanders, a six-mile march through picturesque Strathdon that continues a near 200-year tradition. 

Dressed in full Highland regalia and armed with an eight-foot long pike, George will join around 170 other men as they visit a number of local properties where they toast the health of the owners and the local area.

With a membership numbering 227 men, the Lonach Highlanders are believed to be the largest body of non-military men to carry ceremonial weapons in Britain.  Clad in tartan, with pikes aloft, banners flying and led by a pipe band, the Highlanders create one of the most iconic cultural spectacles in north-east Scotland.

Getting underway at 8am on Saturday morning, the march precedes the Lonach Highland Gathering, which commences at 12 noon and features piping, highland dancing, tug o’ war, children’s races and light and heavy athletics events.

Having marched six miles and enjoyed a hearty lunch, George will join a field of around 100 runners of all ages to compete in the event’s hill race.  Runners interested in participating in the race, which is free to enter and features a £75 first prize, can enter on the day.

The challenging four-mile off-road course features a steep ascent as it winds its way round the hillside forest.  It’s a course that George knows well, having competed in the race 17 times, winning the competition for Lonach Society members six times.

For a man who has completed a number of marathons, ultra-marathons and is a member of Triathlon Inverness, the Saturday march and hill race will be ideal preparation for the Great Aberdeen Run, which he will run in his Lonach Highlanders uniform.

George said:

“I started running about 19 year ago and haven’t really stopped.  I run about four times a week and love it.  I’ve covered all sorts of distances, including marathons in Edinburgh, London and Dublin, the 53-mile Highland Fling ultra and the 50-mile Highland Cross duathlon. 

“It’s brilliant to see the Great Aberdeen Run taking place and I’m looking forward to being part of it.  A 10k run round Aberdeen will be a superb way to end the weekend.  The Lonach Gathering is a fantastic day out and a stirring spectacle, one which I’ve been part of for the past 47 years.  Lonach is the ideal warm-up for the Great Aberdeen Run and an event that I’d encourage visitors to the north-east to attend.”

The Lonach Highland Gathering and Games takes place in the Aberdeenshire village of Bellabeg, which is around an hour’s drive from Aberdeen.  Events on the Highland Games field get underway at 12noon, with the Lonach Highlanders marching round the arena at 1pm and 3pm.  Tickets are priced from £10 for adults and £4 for children.

Established in 1823, by Sir Charles Forbes, 1st Baronet of Newe and Edinglassie, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society is a charitable organisation based in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. 

The society organises the annual Lonach Gathering at Bellabeg Park, Strathdon, which is held on the fourth Saturday of August.  The main attraction at the gathering is the march of the Lonach Highlanders, a unique body of non-military men.  Further information on the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, the Lonach Highlanders and the annual Lonach Highland Gathering can be found at www.lonach.org.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
May 122017
 

With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates.

Aberdeenshire’s Lonach Highlanders are set to make a mark as they debut at this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Seventy-five of Strathdon’s kilted clansmen will travel to the capital in August to be part of the iconic annual spectacle as it celebrates Scotland’s clans.

The men have been invited to be part of the performance on Monday, 14 August by Lord Forbes, chief of the Forbes clan.

In front of an audience of around 8,500 people, including many international visitors, the highlanders will parade onto Edinburgh Castle’s Esplanade to herald the start of the evening’s performance. Dressed in full highland regalia and armed with their traditional eight-foot long pikes, the men will create an imposing sight for the gathered crowd.

With a history stretching back to 1823 when the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society was formed, the Lonach Highlanders are believed to be the largest body of non-military men to carry ceremonial weapons in Britain. Membership is drawn from residents of the local area who descend from the Forbes, Wallace and Gordon clans. Society membership currently stands at 227 men, under the patronage of Sir James Forbes, 8th Baronet of Newe and Edinglassie.

The theme of this year’s Tattoo is a Splash of Tartan, something that the Lonach Highlanders will admirably provide. To mark Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, Tattoo organisers have teamed up with The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs to celebrate the country’s clan heritage and national fabric, and their influence around the world.

Two or three clans will be represented at each performance during the Tattoo’s three-week run. On the night of the Lonach Highlander’s attendance, both the Forbes and Wallace clans will muster on the castle esplanade and their Scottish ancestry celebrated.

This is a fantastic opportunity for the society and the highlanders to help promote our history and heritage

The highlanders’ trip to Edinburgh comes just 12 days before their own annual gathering takes place in Bellabeg, Aberdeenshire.

Attracting crowds of up to 10,000 people, the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games is one of north-east Scotland’s leading traditional highland games.

This year’s event on Saturday, 26 August marks the 176th time the gathering has been held. It will once again commence with the Lonach Highlanders embarking on six-mile march round the local area, following in the footsteps of their forefathers and continuing a near two-hundred year-old tradition.

Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said:

“The Lonach Highland and Friendly Society is honoured to have been invited to participate in this year’s Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. This is the first time that the Lonach Highlanders have been present at the event and there is huge excitement amongst those taking part.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for the society and the highlanders to help promote our history and heritage, the Lonach Gathering, Aberdeenshire and highland games in general. Television recording will be taking place on the night that we are parading. If we make the director’s cut then there is potential for millions of people around the world to learn about Lonach.

“Attending the Tattoo will be a great warm up for the 176th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games just 12 days later on Saturday, 26 August. If you think the sight of 75 Lonach Highlanders marching is special, the sight and sound of 200 of them, pikes aloft, marching through picturesque Strathdon is one to behold, and not to be missed.”

Ringside seat tickets for the 176th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games are on sale now, priced from £12 for adults and £7 for children. Visit www.lonach.org for full details.

Established in 1823, by Sir Charles Forbes, 1st Baronet of Newe and Edinglassie, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society is a charitable organisation based in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. The society organises the annual Lonach Gathering at Bellabeg Park, Strathdon, which is held on the fourth Saturday of August.

The main attraction at the gathering is the march of the Lonach Highlanders, a unique body of non-military men. Further information on the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, the Lonach Highlanders and the annual Lonach Highland Gathering can be found at www.lonach.org.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
May 052017
 

With thanks to Diane Smith.

The Moray Way Association has received £6000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to support the Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival and a project based along the Moray Way, Moray’s 96 mile long distance walking route.
Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the projects will focus on events that uncover the historical, archaeological, architectural, natural and the landscape heritage of Moray.

This year the festival, which runs from 16 June to 25 June 2017, will have a ‘heritage’ theme with more events than ever exploring Moray’s built and natural landscape.

Highlights of the programme will include two events by Moray based historian and writer of The Making of a Scottish Landscape, Dr John Barrett; Ghost Towns – deserted settlements in Strathavon, where you will be able to explore the remains of a lost culture and, A Royal Burgh: the making of Medieval Forres, a walk tracing the origins and development of the town. 

The events are proving to be popular as an extra date has been arrange for the Ghost Towns walk which was sold out in a week.

The programme has a wealth of other historical and natural heritage events organised by local community groups like Speyside Visitor Centre, Cullen, Deskford & Portknockie Heritage Group, Forres Footpaths Trust, the Dava Way, Belles on Bikes Moray and Findhorn Village Heritage, alongside organisations such as Wild Things!, Outfit Moray, Forestry Commission, Moray Council Ranger Service and Ace Adventures.

Over the 10 days there are 50 plus events right across Moray, from Tomintoul to Lossiemouth.

Back again this year is Moray Way Five Day Challenge in which participants walk the 95 miles of the Moray Way over 5 days.

The walk, which includes the Dava Way, Moray Coastal Trail and the Speyside Way, provides participants with a ‘park and ride’ service to make it easier to complete the long distance walk, with options to just walk sections of the route. Also, returning this year is the famous Dava Way Ghost Train Walk, the Secrets of Pluscarden and Secrets of Spynie which participants rated as excellent last year.

For those who are looking for adrenalin rush then Ace Adventures are running their water sports events every day of the festival at special reduced prices. You can see the River Findhorn from a different view with cliff jumping, canyoning and white water rafting. They are also running their growing activity, Disc Golf.

This year the programme has several firsts;

  • Moray Speyside Film Club are hosting a special “Outdoor” themed evening of films,
  • a Wild Swim event will be taking place in Lochindorb with Vivienne Rickman- Poole, artist, wild swimmer and listed in the top 19 San Miguel Rich List ‘alternative rich’ as well as Calum Maclean, of ‘Wild Swimming in Scotland’.
  • A unique and special opportunity with The British Biathlon Rifle Club to spend several hours learning to shoot small-bore rifles in the marvellously unique Olympic discipline of biathlon. 

As well as supporting events in the Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival the funding will also help the development of a long-term plan to increase awareness of the Moray Way. Funding will support a commission artist to work with communities along the Moray Way to gather stories which can then be used to promote the route. This project will expect to start in the summer.

Commenting on the award, Bea Jefferson, Chairperson of the Moray Way Association said:

“We are thrilled to have received support thanks to National Lottery players. Each year interest in the event flourishes and funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund ensures that we can keep growing. We look forward to celebrating Moray’s natural and built heritage through the Festival and our Moray Way project.”

About Moray Way Association

The Moray Way Association was founded in 2011 with the aim of creating Moray’s long distance walking route, The Moray Way, a 96 mile circular walking trail. Since 2012 the organisation has also organised the Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival with the purpose of encouraging walking and other outdoor pursuits in Moray. www.moraywalkingfestival.co.uk

For further information, images and interviews please contact Diane A Smith at Moray Walking & Outdoor Festival on 07764615517 or info@moraywalkingfestival.co.uk

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Feb 102017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

In a ground-breaking move, Aberdeenshire Council today became the first local authority in Scotland to set a carbon budget alongside its revenue, housing and capital budgets. All four budgets for 2017/18 were set at the meeting of the full Aberdeenshire Council yesterday (9 February).

The idea of a Council carbon budget was put forward last year by Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) councillors Martin Ford and Paul Johnston.

The aim of the budget is to promote the effective management and delivery of reductions in Aberdeenshire Council’s own carbon emissions – and so contribute to the wider efforts to prevent more serious man-made climate change.

Aberdeenshire’s first carbon budget, agreeing to limit total Council emissions to 74007 tonnes CO2e for 2017/18, was backed unanimously by councillors. The new total represents a five per cent cut in emissions relative to emissions in 2014/15 (the most recent year for which data were available when the budget was being calculated). 

Speaking in support of the carbon budget at today’s meeting, Green councillor Martin Ford said:

“This is a very important improvement to the Council’s governance. It will change the way the Council takes decisions.

“Despite very considerable effort, the Council has only been managing to cut the carbon emissions arising from its operations by about one per cent per year – nowhere near enough to meet its own or national targets. I have held the view for some time that this is partly down to the governance arrangements in place in the Council for taking decisions with climate change implications.

“The adoption of an annual carbon budget should make it impossible to ‘forget’ in future that, as well as its intended consequences, a decision may also, unintentionally, increase carbon emissions.

“There is overwhelming scientific evidence for man-made climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions. It’s the most serious threat we face.

“Aberdeenshire Council must play its part in tackling the problem, and get better at reducing its own emissions.”

DIGG councillor Paul Johnston said:

“The carbon budget will allow the Council to achieve the necessary carbon emission reductions as efficiently as possible. We can use it as a tool to ensure the Council gets best value, the maximum carbon bang for our bucks.

“We should never lose sight of the fact that carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels is pollution.”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Feb 072017
 

With thanks to Martin Ford.

Aberdeenshire Green councillor Martin Ford has welcomed the extra money for local government secured by the Green MSPs in return for supporting the Scottish Government’s budget.
Aberdeenshire Council is set to benefit from an additional £6.309 million revenue funding and an additional capital allocation of £1.88 million – beyond the settlement previously intimated by the Scottish Government.

Budget day this year for Aberdeenshire Council comes on Thursday (9 February) and the agenda for the budget meeting has just been published containing proposals for balancing the 2017/18 revenue budget on the assumption of acceptance of the Scottish Government’s previous position on local government funding. 

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“I am relieved and delighted that, at the eleventh hour, additional government funding has been secured for next year for Aberdeenshire Council.

“For Aberdeenshire Council, Green MSP colleagues have secured a huge improvement.

“Even with £6.3 million extra funding, it is still going to be a tough budget this year for Aberdeenshire Council. But clearly the Council will now be able to re-visit the budget proposals just published and, at the very least, take out some of the proposed cuts to services. This is excellent news. I am so pleased.

“As it stands, the proposed budget includes some staffing reductions in Education and Children’s Services which I certainly don’t want to see implemented. Converting some of the Council’s spending on roads maintenance from revenue to capital, as proposed, is a short term saving, but long term is more expensive. There are good arguments for dropping these measures from next year’s Aberdeenshire budget now the financial pressure on the Council has been eased.”

The proposed Aberdeenshire 2017/18 revenue budget, as published yesterday, does include elements put forward in the Democratic Independent and Green Group (DIGG) draft budget proposals last November – including additional money for active travel, traffic calming and youth work.

DIGG councillor Paul Johnston said:

“We’re pleased some issues we identified as needing support have been taken on board by the administration, but, given the financial squeeze, the amount of extra money was inevitably going to be very limited. There is clearly now scope for a greater investment in these agreed priorities.

“The DIGG will also want to look at the potential for using some of the new money for measures not included at all in the published proposed 2017/18 revenue budget – such as support for businesses affected by the business rates revaluation.”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Feb 072017
 

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR

Four Scottish youngsters with special needs have received play equipment that will help them build their independence and get out and about in their own communities to socialise and play.
Aberdeen Asset Management granted more than £3,900 to purchase two trikes, a standing frame and a walking frame for youngsters living in the Edinburgh and Aberdeen areas.

The global financial management firm responded to an appeal from Handicapped Children’s Action Group to fund the apparatus, which is not available on the NHS, and at purchase costs averaging £1,000 per  item, is usually cost prohibitive for families to purchase.

The charity receives over 800 referrals a year from health professionals, but only has the funding to help around 180-190 of these cases.

The charity  would love to be able to help every single applicant but with no government funding the charity is dependent on fundraising and the support of organisations like Aberdeen Asset Management to help it provide the much-needed equipment.

Carole Davies from Handicapped Children’s Action Group said:

“A trike gives independence and mobility to a child who has had to rely on an adult for every movement; a walking frame gives a child the ability to get up and walk freely without assistance while a buggy enables a family to take their child into the community without fear of safety issues. Play frames enable a child with autism to play safely and explore in a controlled environment.

“All equipment brings fun, movement, mobility and integration to children all over the country and without the help of people like Aberdeen Asset Management we would be unable to achieve this.”

More than £3,900 was spent on the purchase of two trikes, a standing frame and a walking frame for three children in Edinburgh and one in Aberdeen.

Handicapped Children’s Action Group is a registered charity based in Lincolnshire which assists children and families across the UK. When it started in 1988 it helped about a dozen families a year, but now it helps well over 100 with the purchase of equipment varying in price from £500 to £2,500 per item. Requests come from physiotherapists who recommend that the equipment will help the youngster with day to day living. All the items funded by Aberdeen Asset Management were delivered to families just in time for Christmas.

Euan MacNeish of Aberdeen Asset Management’s Edinburgh charity committee said:

“Equipment provided by Handicapped Children’s Action Group will help give children with special needs the independence and mobility they deserve. Through the support of Aberdeen’s Charitable Committee we hope we are able to give these  children the ability to join in with the activities of children their own age and no longer watch from the side-lines. We are proud to support the local communities in which we operate in this way.”

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

 

Oct 272016
 

By Duncan Harley, and with thanks to Erica Banks, Communications Officer, Aberdeen Performing Arts.

music_hall_emeli_sande4

Emeli Sandé has pledged her support to the multi-million pound scheme to launch the historic venue into the 21st century and beyond

Built to a design by Archibald Simpson and opened in 1822, performers as diverse as Charles Dickens, Elton John and comedy puppet duo Pinky and Perky have trodden the boards to entertain and amaze Aberdeen audiences. Politicians such as Tony Benn, Winston Churchill, and Lloyd George also put in appearances, and throughout its history the building has played host to everything from concerts and bazaars to theatre and sporting events.

Indeed many Aberdonians can still recall their shock introduction to Glam Rock when in far off 1972 a hopeful David Bowie accompanied by legendary guitarist Mick Ronson brought Spiders from Mars to a Music Hall audience.

As the “A Listed” venue begins an £8m restoration and regeneration uplift, Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA) has announced that Alford-born singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé has pledged her support to the multi-million pound scheme to launch the historic venue into the 21st century and beyond.

“The Music Hall holds so many fond memories for me” said former Alford Academy pupil Emeli,

“From the music festivals in primary school to my first tour, the beautiful atmosphere and stunning acoustics really make this a special place to perform.”

The project is spearheaded by APA, the charitable trust which runs the Music Hall, His Majesty’s Theatre and The Lemon Tree.

To date, fundraising efforts have raised a massive £6.5m towards the transformation, including major contributions from Aberdeen City Council, Creative Scotland, The Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland, The Robertson Trust, The Foyle Foundation, Garfield Weston, The Wolfson Foundation and The Hugh Fraser Foundation.

This week a £150,000 sponsorship deal has been agreed between APA and Aberdeen Solicitors’ Property Centre. Aberdeen Inspired has also gifted £50,000, bringing the total funds raised to just over 80 percent of the final total, £7.9m, ahead of re-opening in Autumn/Winter 2018.

Jane Spiers, APA Chief Executive commented:

“We are so thrilled to have begun the next chapter in the life of the Music Hall. This is a huge campaign that has been years in the making – it has taken many months of planning and fundraising. However, this project is about much more than bricks and mortar. The Music Hall is a national treasure with decades of wonderful history behind it.

The range and calibre of artists, musicians and events the Hall has hosted over nearly 200 years is truly astonishing and its place at the heart of community and civic life is unassailable. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has a connection with Aberdeen who doesn’t have a story to tell about the Music Hall – a prize giving, graduation, great concert, school orchestra, a romantic encounter.

We’re delighted that Emeli Sandé is lending her support to the transformation and we are proud to be developing a venue which will be international in outlook and also operate at the heart of the ever-growing arts community in the North-east.”

Plans for the revamped Music Hall include upgrades to the historic auditorium with new seating, flooring and more flexible staging, new performance, rehearsal and education spaces, upgraded artist facilities, a new foyer, box office and café bar and new ramps and lifts to improve access to all areas.

Jane added:

“It really is an ingenious re-imagining of the space. We’re restoring and retaining the Music Hall’s historic fabric and its wonderful acoustic and at the same time we’re adding new features in keeping with the expectations of a 21st century audience … our venues are a vital part of cultural life in the city”

Aberdeen City Council leader Jenny Laing backed up Jane’s comments

“The Music Hall redevelopment is a wonderful example of projects taking place in the city centre which will deliver a positive impact”

and Sean O’Callaghan of main contractor Kier Construction commented that

“It’s a privilege to restore this historic and much loved building. Our expertise and experience in delivering a diverse range of iconic heritage projects across Scotland stands us in good stead as we renovate Aberdeen Music Hall for future generations to enjoy.”

If you would like to support the project via donations, by lending the support of your business or by becoming a Music Hall ambassador contact Aberdeen Performing Arts .

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Sep 012016
 

With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates.

March of the Lonach Highlanders 2016

The Lonach Highlanders set out following in the footsteps of their forefathers on their traditional six-mile march round local six properties.

The history and heritage of one of Scotland oldest and most iconic highland games was celebrated on Saturday (27 Aug) in the Aberdeenshire village of Bellabeg.

Thousands of visitors from across Scotland and further afield attended the 175th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games and witness the unique and emotive march of the Lonach Highlanders.

An estimated crowd of around 9,000 packed into Bellabeg Park in Strathdon to watch the day’s proceedings, which enjoyed warm dry conditions with long spells of bright sunshine.

Organised by the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games has been held annually since 1832 except during the years of the first and second world wars.

To mark the 175th anniversary games, the Lonach Highlanders, believed to be the largest body of non-military men to carry ceremonial weapons in Britain, were joined on their marches by Europe’s only private army, the Atholl Highlanders.

In total, 210 individuals dressed in full highland regalia, which included members of both highlanders’ pipe bands, took part in the day’s marches. There were 170 members of the Lonach Highlanders armed eight-foot long pikes and Lochaber axes, and 40 Atholl Highlanders carrying Lee-Metford rifles.

The day’s proceedings in Strathdon began at 8am as the Lonach Highlanders set out following in the footsteps of their forefathers on their traditional six-mile march round local six properties. The glen came to life as the still morning air was broken by the strains of the pipes and drums of the bands, the footsteps of marching highlanders and sound of the following horse and cart.

At each of the six stops the highlanders received a dram from the properties owners, continuing a tradition begun by their predecessors.  The highlanders toasted the health of their hosts, the society and the local area, with the cry ‘Ho Ho Lonach’ resounding through the strath.

Five new Lonach Highlanders took part in the march for the first time. Membership of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society currently stands at over 230.  The oldest Lonach Highlander marching was 76-year-old marshalling sergeant George Thomson from Strathdon, while the youngest was 16-year-old Bradley Joss from Kintore, who was among three generations of his family marching.

The 175th anniversary of the gathering was also marked with a display of old photographs, which charted the evolution of the gathering and the changing fashions of its visitors. Some of the photographs dated back to the 1890s. Many had been donated by society members and regulars to the Lonach Gathering who were keen to share their memories of the event.

March of the Lonach Highlanders 2016 (2)Crowds packed the grandstands and stood up to six deep in places around the main arena to watch proceedings, with the heavy events, the hill race and highland dancing receiving enthusiastic support.

The Lonach Highlanders, the Atholl Highlanders and the massed pipe bands received rousing welcomes as they circled the arena.

However, the loudest cheers were reserved for Socks, the Lonach horse, who made his second appearance at the games pulling the traditional ‘cairt’. Owned by Derek Gray of Kildrummy, Socks is a seven-year-old Irish Heavy Cob.

Six pipe bands from across Scotland performed at the gathering. Lonach Pipe Band was joined by the Pipe Band of the Atholl Highlanders, Ballater and District, Huntly and District, Towie and District and the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Guard from 2 SCOTS – the Royal Highland Fusiliers.

The gathering featured a full programme of traditional highland events, including solo and massed piping, highland dancing, children’s races, and light and heavy athletics, with some of the country’s leading athletes competing.

Once again, the heavy events drew a strong field of entrants. Current Scottish Highland Games Association World Heavyweight Champion, Scott Rider from London, competed and continued his exceptional performance this season by finishing first overall in the heavy events.

A field of over 90 lined up to tackle the four-mile hill race. The men’s race was won once again by James Espie of Dinnet, while the first lady home was Aboyne’s Stephanie Provan and the first Lonach Society member to finish was Neil Gauld of Midmar.

A keenly fought contest took place in the ladies tug o’ war, with the Glenbuchat Ladies proving victorious over Lonach Ladies and the team made up of ladies from the Rest of the World.

Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said:

“It was a fantastic day from start to finish, with a brilliant atmosphere. The Lonach and Atholl Highlanders created a real spectacle and their combined numbers made it one of the largest marches we have seen. The reaction from those watching was quite something and generated a few tears amongst the crowd.

“Our 175th gathering is a hugely important milestone for the society and it was wonderful to see so many people here to help us celebrate it. The gathering has been a constant in a changing world and this was beautifully documented in our display of old photographs which received a lot of attention from visitors, and generated much laughter at some of the fashions.

“The gathering has always given the local area a huge boost, both socially and economically, and it is important that we maintain that. Our heritage is vitally important to preserve and with a number of young new members joining the society in the past year the future of Lonach looks bright.”

Established in 1823, by Sir Charles Forbes, 1st Baronet of Newe and Edinglassie, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society is a charitable organisation based in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire.

The society organises the annual Lonach Gathering at Bellabeg Park, Strathdon, which is held on the fourth Saturday of August. The main attraction at the gathering is the march of the Lonach Highlanders, a unique body of non-military men. Further information on the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, the Lonach Highlanders and the annual Lonach Highland Gathering can be found at www.lonach.org.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Aug 262016
 

With thanks to Ian McLaren, PR account manager, Innes Associates.

Stars of the show - The Lonach Highlanders are one of the main attractions at the Lonach Gathering (picture credit Ian Halliday)lopro

Stars of the show – The Lonach Highlanders are one of the main attractions at the Lonach Gathering (picture credit Ian Halliday)

Europe’s only private army is heading to Aberdeenshire this Saturday to help celebrate the 175th anniversary of one of Scotland’s oldest and most iconic highland games.

The Atholl Highlanders have been invited to attend this year’s Lonach Highland Gathering and Games as the event takes place for the 175th time.

They will join the local Lonach Highlanders on their three annual games day marches, creating one of the largest marches of highlanders in the event’s long history.

Organised by the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, the Lonach Gathering is one of Scotland’s best known traditional events, attracting up to 10,000 visitors to the Aberdeenshire village of Bellabeg. Held in village’s Bellabeg Park, this year’s gathering takes place on Saturday, 27 August.

The annual event features the unique march of the Lonach Highlanders, who are believed to be the largest body of non-military men to carry ceremonial weapons in Britain. Membership of the Lonach Highlanders currently stands at around 230 men and is drawn from residents of the local area who descend from the Forbes, Wallace and Gordon clans.

Commencing at 8am on the morning of the games, the march of the Lonach Highlanders winds its way through Strathdon in Aberdeenshire, stopping at six local properties. At each stop on the six-mile route the highlanders receive a dram to toast the health of the society and the area.

Dressed in full highland regalia and armed with eight-foot long pikes and Lochaber axes, the Lonach Highlanders bring traffic on the A944 through Strathdon to a standstill. With the similarly attired Atholl Highlanders, who carry Lee-Metford rifles, the spectacle will be even greater for visitors.

This year, with the Atholl Highlanders in attendance, the march is expected to be one of the largest in history, numbering around 220 individuals, which includes members of both highlanders’ pipe bands. Both bodies of men will again march together during the afternoon marches on the games field at 1pm and 3pm, with the 3pm march being led by the massed pipes and drums of a number of pipe bands.

Featuring a full programme of traditional highland events, including individual and massed piping, highland dancing and light and heavy athletics, the Lonach Gathering attracts some of the country’s leading pipers, dancers and athletes. With a children’s race, a hill race, tug o’war, around 50 trade stands and a family funfair, there are many attractions to keep everyone entertained.

Activities on the games field commence at 10:30am with the piping competitions, before the full programme of traditional events commences at noon.

Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said:

“The 175th Lonach Gathering is shaping up to be a real showstopper and the presence of Europe’s only private army will only add to that.  This anniversary is a milestone for the society and the gathering, and we hope to welcome visitors from near and far to help us celebrate it.

“We are really looking forward to the Atholl Highlanders joining the Lonach Highlanders on their marches, which are always a fantastic spectacle. In the crisp morning air, the sight and sound of the 8am march winding its way through the valley is magnificent. We don’t think that anywhere else in the world you can witness hundreds of kilted highlanders marching along a main road and bringing the traffic to a halt.

“Also to mark the anniversary, we are charting the history of the Lonach Gathering with a display of fascinating old photographs. It includes some from when the Atholl Highlanders have previously marched here at Lonach.”

The 175th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games takes place on Saturday, 27 August in Bellabeg, Strathdon, Aberdeenshire. Tickets are priced from £8 for adults, £4 for children aged between 5 and 15, while entry for children under 4 is free. Car parking is also free.

Established in 1823, by Sir Charles Forbes, 1st Baronet of Newe and Edinglassie, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society is a charitable organisation based in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire.

The society organises the annual Lonach Gathering at Bellabeg Park, Strathdon, which is held on the fourth Saturday of August. The main attraction at the gathering is the march of the Lonach Highlanders, a unique body of non-military men. Further information on the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, the Lonach Highlanders and the annual Lonach Highland Gathering can be found at www.lonach.org.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.