Jul 062017
 

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

Heavy athlete Kyle Randalls competing at the 2016 Aboyne Highland Games

As Aboyne Highland Games prepares to mark its 150th anniversary next month, the event is moving its competitor registration process
online.

Individuals looking to compete in the highland dancing, piping and fiddle competitions, light and heavy
athletics events, and the hill race, and teams in the tug o’ war contest, will need to register their entry online before Monday, 31 July.

The move is designed to speed up the process of checking in competitors on games day by removing much of the administration that normally takes place.

Advance registration for the children’s races is not required and entries for these events will be accepted on games day in the normal manner.

Those competing at this year’s Aboyne Highland Games will receive a special pin badge to mark their participation in the event as it celebrates its 150th anniversary. 

To coincide with that milestone, organisers have announced that the field for the popular Fungle Hill Race is being limited to 150 places. This year, the 6.8-mile race, which follows part of the historic Fungle Road and circles the base of Craigendinnie hill, will have both men’s and women’s sections with £100 prizes for the first male and female runners to complete the route.

After a near 40-year absence, pole-vaulting will return to this year’s programme. The sport featured in the first Aboyne Highland Games in 1867 and is being included in the 2017 programme to acknowledge the contribution it made to that inaugural games 150 years ago.

One of north-east Scotland’s leading summer events, this year’s Aboyne Highland Games will take place in the Royal Deeside town on Saturday, 05 August. The event, which attracts around 10,000 visitors every year, features a packed programme of 98 traditional highland events. Leading athletes, dancers and musicians from across the country will compete for a combined prize fund of over £13,000.

Alistair Grant, chairman of Aboyne Highland Games, said:

“This year’s games is shaping up to be a great day with our 150th anniversary being marked in many ways. Aboyne Games has always kept pace with the times and our decision to move competitor registration online is reflective of that.

“The change is designed to remove some of the administration that normally takes place on games day. Competitors will still need to sign in in the normal manner, but by pre-registering we’re aiming to remove unnecessary waits and hassle, making their day at Aboyne more enjoyable.”

Those looking to compete at this year’s Aboyne Highland Games can register at www.aboynegames.com.

Founded in 1867, Aboyne Highland Games is a traditional Scottish highland games held annually on the first Saturday in August. The Aberdeenshire event, held under the patronage of Granville Gordon, the 13th Marquis of Huntly, attracts crowds of up to 10,000 people each year.

Featuring a programme of traditional highland games events, including highland dancing, tossing the caber and piping, the event on the town’s green attracts visitors from around the world and makes an important contribution to the local Deeside economy. 

Further information on Aboyne Highland Games can be found at www.aboynegames.com.

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Jul 032017
 

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

Murray Brown peeling the bark from the log.

Athletes competing in the heavy events at this summer’s Aboyne Highland Games will have a new challenge on their hands as organisers have unveiled a new caber to mark the event’s 150th anniversary.

One of the most iconic disciplines in the highland games programme, tossing the caber requires competitors to possess strength and good balance.

Measuring 23ft 6in (7.15m) in length and weighing approximately 130lbs (59kg), the new anniversary caber is set to test these skills when it is attempted to be thrown end over end into the perfect 12 o’clock position at this year’s games on Saturday, 05 August.

Founded in 1867, Aboyne Highland Games has become one of north-east Scotland’s most popular traditional summer events, attracting up to 10,000 visitors each year. Held on the town’s green, the games is a highlight of the Royal Deeside summer events calendar.

Overseas visitors to highland games watch in awe as competitors toss the caber – many are amazed by the ability of heavy athletes to run with and throw such a lengthy and weighty object. The caber is often described by foreign tourists as a tree trunk – its most natural form – and fail to realise the work involved in creating this carefully crafted piece of sporting equipment.

Organisers of Aboyne Highland Games decided to commission a new caber as the discipline was one that had been a fixture of the games’ programme since the event’s inception 150 years ago.

At the inaugural games, local athlete Donald Dinnie, who would go on to become one of the world’s most revered athletes, outclassed competitors in most disciplines, including tossing the caber. It was reported in the Aberdeen Journal of Wednesday, 04 September 1867 that: “In tossing the caber again, Dinnie was far superior to any of the others, and tossed clean over twice an enormous tree, which none of the others could turn until fully three feet were cut off the thick end.”

Timber for the commemorative caber was donated by Dinnet Estates and came from a 50-year-old Douglas Fir that stood in woodland at Rhu-na-Haven Road, Aboyne. Since the 70ft tree was felled in January, the timber has undergone a number of processes that have seen it transformed from tree trunk to slender caber.

The work is being carried out by Murray Brown, who is convenor of heavy events at Aboyne Highland Games. Murray, who himself competed in the heavy events at highland games during the 1970s and 80s, has made a number of cabers in recent years. Over the past five months Murray and a team of volunteers have spent around 50 hours creating the new Aboyne caber, which will be unveiled at the games.

Tommy Fyvie of Aboyne tossing the caber at the 2016 Aboyne Highland Games

The first stage of the process was to allow the sap within the wood to dry out, before the log was peeled of its bark and sculpted and sanded into the iconic gently tapering pole. A number of coats of oil have also been applied to the caber to preserve its finish. One end of the caber has a smaller circumference, allowing competitors to safely hold it with ease.

The 150th anniversary caber will be used in a special event that will be contested the winner of the open caber throwing competition on games day.

If they are deemed to have successfully tossed the anniversary caber into the perfect 12 o’clock position they will be rewarded with a £500 prize.

Murray Brown, convenor of the heavy events, said:

“Many foreign visitors are unaware of the work that is involved in creating a caber. Some think we merely cut down a tree, strip the trunk of its bark and put it to use on the games field. However, it would still be full of sap which would make it too heavy and its girth at both ends too broad to be held by the majority of competitors.

“The new anniversary caber is a beautiful piece of timber. The wood is very straight and has few blemishes, which has made working with it over the last few months much easier. I look forward to seeing competitors throwing it on games day.”

Aboyne Highland Games has a tradition of creating cabers that challenge the strength and skill of competitors. In 1961, the games sent new cabers to Australia following a request from the Highland Society of New South Wales. However, it proved too tough a challenge for Australian heavy athletes. It was reported in the Canberra Times of October, 21 1965 that “nobody could toss it” and that it was subsequently replaced.

Marcus Humphrey, whose family owns Dinnet Estate, was inspired to donate wood for the anniversary caber after recalling that he was at the quayside in 1961 when the cabers arrived down under.

He said:

“I got the idea when I remembered that Aboyne gave two cabers to the Highland Society of New South Wales in 1961. The society was keen to obtain a caber from a Scottish forest for use at its own games and Aboyne duly obliged. By chance I was in Sydney and witnessed the cabers being unloaded from a ship at the harbour.”

Alistair Grant, chairman of Aboyne Highland Games, added:

“Our 150th anniversary is set to be a special day and is being marked in a number of ways. A book containing old pictures and the public’s memories of the games is being created, an anniversary whisky is being bottled and pole vaulting is making a return to programme.

“The new caber will be a splendid and lasting addition to our games equipment. Our thanks go to Murray, Marcus and all of those who have been involved in crafting it.”

Founded in 1867, Aboyne Highland Games is a traditional Scottish highland games held annually on the first Saturday in August. The Aberdeenshire event, held under the patronage of Granville Gordon, the 13th Marquis of Huntly, attracts crowds of up to 10,000 people each year.

Featuring a programme of traditional highland games events, including highland dancing, tossing the caber and piping, the event on the town’s green attracts visitors from around the world and makes an important contribution to the local Deeside economy. Further information on Aboyne Highland Games can be found at www.aboynegames.com.

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Jun 162017
 

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

The Lonach Hall set for the Annual Highland Ball.

Highland ball aficionados from across Scotland are being invited to attend one of Aberdeenshire’s oldest and most popular social gatherings.

The Lonach Highland Ball has been held in Strathdon, Aberdeenshire since 1833, and provides an opportunity for guests to celebrate the achievements of competitors at the annual Lonach Highland Gathering and Games.

Tickets for the black-tie event have just gone on sale and organisers, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, are keen to encourage a whole new generation of traditional Scottish dance enthusiasts to come along and sample the unique hospitality on offer.

Around 140 people attend the formal annual event. However, a press cutting from 1927 illustrates how popular the ball was 90 years ago, when it was reported that around 500 people attended that year’s event.

Held in the magnificent barrel-vaulted Lonach Hall in Strathdon, the Lonach Highland Ball is one of the highlights of the Strathdon social calendar. Along with guests from the local area, the evening attracts people from across north-east Scotland and further afield.

Guests to this year’s ball on Friday, 01 September will enjoy a four-course meal served by Harry Fraser Catering and dancing to the Graeme Mitchell Scottish Dance Band.  Tickets are priced at £40 per person.

The black-tie event sees some of the trophies that were contested at the previous week’s Lonach Highland Gathering and Games presented to competition winners.  Featuring the impressive march of the Lonach Highlanders, Lonach Highland Gathering and Games is one of Scotland’s most iconic highland games.

Staged annually on the fourth Saturday in August in the Aberdeenshire village of Bellabeg, the gathering features over 75 competitions in highland dancing, piping, light and heavy athletics and tug o’ war. This year’s gathering takes place on Saturday, 26 August.

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

“The Lonach Highland Ball is a fantastic night and an important part of the fabric of the society and the local community. We are keen to ensure it continues to be for decades to come, in the same way it has since the 1830s.

“It provides an opportunity for everyone to celebrate the achievements of competitors at the previous week’s gathering and the success of the gathering itself. Guests from across the north-east attend the ball, with some travelling out from Aberdeen for the evening, which is testament to the calibre of the event.

“The Lonach Hall is a brilliant, atmospheric venue which has a sprung dancefloor, meaning there is a great bounce for Scottish dancing. For keen dancers that is part of the appeal of the Lonach Ball.”

Anyone interested in attending the Lonach Highland Ball should contact Jennifer Stewart by e-mailing secretary@lonach.org.

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.    

May 122017
 

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

Massed pipe bands at Aboyne Highland Games

One of Aberdeenshire’s leading traditional events is seeking the public’s input as it prepares to shine a spotlight on a century and a half of its history.

The organisers of Aboyne Highland Games are calling on the public to share their memories and photographs of the iconic Royal Deeside event as it prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary later this year.

All of the contributions will be included in a special commemorative memory book that will be on display at this summer’s event. For visitors who wish to share their games memories on the day itself, boards will be set up to allow written reminiscences.

An extensive written and pictorial archive documenting the event’s history is held by the Aboyne Highland Games. However, the organising committee is keen to hear personal memories and see still or moving images of the games from those who have attended over the decades.

Aboyne Highland Games has become a highlight of the Deeside events calendar since its founding in 1867. It has been held annually on the town’s green for the past 150 years, with the only exception being during both world wars. This year’s event takes place on Saturday, 05 August and is once again expected to welcome up to 10,000 visitors.

The inaugural Aboyne Highland Games was held on Saturday, 31 August 1867 following just a month of planning and was well attended. The Aberdeen Journal of Wednesday, 04 September 1867 noted that:

“When the time arrived for beginning the competition, several thousands of spectators, of all classes, and all out for a holiday, surrounded the large enclosure on the muir.”

Today, the games is held on the first Saturday in August and features a packed programme of 95 traditional highland events, including solo and massed piping, highland dancing, light and heavy athletics and fiddle competitions. A popular feature is the 6.8-mile hill race that follows part of the Fungle Road and circles the base of Craigendinnie. With total combined prize fund of over £13,000 on offer, Aboyne Highland Games attracts some of the country’s leading pipers, dancers and athletes. 

After a near 40-year absence, one of the events that featured in the programme of the first games is being staged to mark the event’s milestone anniversary. Pole vaulting will be included in the Saturday afternoon programme for the first time since 1978. Once a staple of highland games events throughout Scotland, the discipline is now only contested at a handful of games each year.

Alistair Grant, chairman of Aboyne Highland Games, said:

“Aboyne Highland Games has been an important and much loved fixture of the Deeside calendar for a century and a half. We know it has played an important part of many people’s lives and are keen to hear from those with memories of the event, either as spectators, participants or involved in its organisation.

“Our minute books contain extensive written records of the evolution of the games, from the initial meeting on Saturday, 27 July 1867 where the idea of holding a highland games in Aboyne was first discussed, through to the present time. Although factual, these do not capture the people’s story of Aboyne Highland Games, which is vital for our memory book.

“Reaching our 150th anniversary is an important milestone in the history of the games. As we look back with great fondness and celebrate the history, heritage and culture of the local area, we also look to the future. To welcoming new faces annually on the first Saturday in August who can join us in making history and helping shape the future of this important Deeside event.”

The deadline for submitting photographs and memories is Thursday, 01 June and these can be e-mailed to secretary@aboynegames.com. Further information regarding sending photographs by post is available on the Aboyne Highland Games Facebook page.

Founded in 1867, Aboyne Highland Games is a traditional Scottish highland games held annually on the first Saturday in August.

The Aberdeenshire event, held under the patronage of Granville Gordon, the 13th Marquis of Huntly, attracts crowds of up to 10,000 people each year. Featuring a programme of traditional highland games events, including highland dancing, tossing the caber, piping and fiddle competitions, the event on the town’s green attracts visitors from around the world and makes an important contribution to the local Deeside economy.

Further information on Aboyne Highland Games can be found at www.aboynegames.com.

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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.

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Apr 012017
 

With thanks to Chris Ramsay, Forviemedia.

Expect increased interest in Aberdeenshire when the World Nomad Games are staged on the Royal Deeside estate of Balmoral this spring, Scotland’s first turn at hosting the event.
The Games have been organised by the
Scottish Government and Aberdeenshire Inspired.

The decision to bid and then extend invitations – to all nations sharing long nomadic histories – came about after the President of the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan visited Aberdeen in the autumn of 2016.

With twenty-five golds, hosts Kyrgyzstan topped the medals table at last year’s Games.

“In the modern world, people are forgetting their history, and there is a threat of extinction for traditional cultures,” says Kyrgyz president Almazbek Atambayev.

“Nomadic civilisation is a good example of sustainable development, which is what all of humanity is looking for today. The Games were designed to unite nations.”

Two thousand competitors from forty countries will pitch up for the Games in Scotland. A hippodrome has been built in the shadow of Lochnagar, Prince Charles’ beloved mountain and haunt. A traditional yurt village has been constructed at nearby Braemar at the site where the Highland Gathering takes place in September every year.

The Games will feature such unorthodox disciplines and ethno-sports as hunting with golden eagles and throwing bones. The highlight will be the horse-riding competition, Kok-boru, a tradition which dates back to when men brandishing sticks on fire used to hunt animals that preyed on their livestock. Fire wards off evil spirits. As part of the Games programme, visitors to the Games in April are encouraged to rewild with reindeer, beavers, lynx and wolves in the Caledonian forests and on the Cairngorm mountains.

More fierce – if not fiery – competition will be evident in the stick wrestling, an event in which two competitors try to gain control of a small stick. The Scottish entrants are expected to excel at the caber tossing, and the Army teams from nearby Ballater are hot favourites to win both the tug-of-war and the polo competition.

The Royal Family is sponsoring a special game – riders on horseback will wrestle each other to capture a dead goat, then hurl the decapitated carcass into a goal. Within the grounds of Balmoral Castle, there will be concerts for spectators and visitors, processions, a nomadic cinema, stunts involving camels and yaks, husky racing, tent erection displays, Bedouin dancing, javelin throwing, rolling Easter eggs and face-painting.

The opening ceremony for Scotland’s World Nomad Games is at Crathie on April 1st 2017.

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Dec 162016
 

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

The Bell Type 47G helicopter apparently being jump started by a car in Bellabeg, Strathdon, Aberdeenshire

The organisers of the annual Lonach Highland Gathering and Games are asking for the help of the north-east public to unearth the story behind a mysterious photograph.
Earlier this year, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society asked for people to send in copies of old photographs of the event for a display to mark the 175th Lonach Highland Gathering. 

Amongst a bundle of old slides were a number taken in Strathdon in the 1960s and 70s, which illustrate how the community has changed.

One image stood out due to its intriguing subject. It features a small helicopter which appears to have landed on the A944, the main road through the village of Bellabeg where the gathering is held, and looks like it is being jumped started by a car.

The car is believed to be a Rover 2000 P6 Series 1, which was produced between 1963 and 1970 and trailing from its open bonnet are what look like jump leads. From the registration mark on its tail, the helicopter has been identified as a 1966 Bell 47G-5, which was owned by a Humberside company involved in aerial spraying.

In a second slide the car is gone and helicopter’s rotors are turning and it looks set for take-off.

The Lonach Highland and Friendly Society is now asking for anyone who can shed light on the picture to get in touch with them.

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

“We had a great response to our appeal for old pictures, which turned up some fantastic images.  Some were more curious than others and left us scratching our heads and asking a number of questions. The visitor response to the display at this year’s gathering provided information about some of those pictures.

“The picture in question was in a box of slides marked Strathdon and Lonach that was donated to us. The person who took the slides died a few years ago and their family had never seen the slides before so couldn’t shed any light on the image. It had us stumped.

“Did a car really jump start a helicopter on the main road in Bellabeg? It’s all very peculiar, but there must be an intriguing story behind it. These types of unusual events play an important part in the history of our local communities.

“Why did a helicopter apparently land on the main road in Bellabeg? Was it really jump started by a car? Does anyone remember it happening, if so when was it? Somebody is bound to be able to fill in all the details, and it would be great to hear from them.”

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society via its Facebook or Twitter pages, or by e-mailing info@lonach.org.

Held annually on the fourth Saturday in August, the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games is one of the oldest and most iconic traditional events in north-east Scotland.  Alongside a full programme of traditional highland events, the 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.

In 2017, the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games will take place on Saturday, 26 August.

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.

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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.

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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.

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Jul 292016
 

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

2. Lonach Highlanders (L to R) George Thomson and Willie Coutts with a poster promoting the 1958 Lonach Highland Gathering and Games

Lonach Highlanders (L to R) George Thomson and Willie Coutts with a poster promoting the 1958 Lonach Highland Gathering and Games

One of the oldest traditional events in north-east Scotland is calling on the public to help celebrate a milestone anniversary next month.

On Saturday, 27 August, the 175th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games will be held in Strathdon and the event’s organisers are asking the public to contribute old pictures and videos of the event to help mark the occasion. The Lonach Highland and Friendly Society was founded in 1823 to preserve highland culture and promote community cohesion and charitable giving.

To help achieve this, it staged its first highland games in 1832, an event that has become an annual fixture. 

During the first and second world wars the gathering was put in abeyance.

Over the past two centuries the Lonach Gathering has grown to become a popular annual event that attracts up to 10,000 visitors each year. A large number of photographs documenting the evolution of the gathering and the local area are held by the society, but it knows thousands more images exist.

In order to stage a display of old photographs at this year’s gathering, organisers are keen to hear from locals and visitors who have attended the event over the decades and captured still images or video footage of the annual spectacle. The society would also be eager to see old photographs of the Lonach Highland Ball, which it also organises and is held in the Lonach Hall on the Friday following the gathering.

Held in the small, picturesque Aberdeenshire village of Bellabeg, the Lonach Highland Gathering features the unique march of the Lonach Highlanders.  With around 220 men, the Lonach Highlanders are believed to be the largest body of non-military men to carry ceremonial weapons in Britain. Membership of the Lonach Highlanders is drawn from residents of the local area who are descended from the Forbes, Wallace and Gordon clans.

Featuring a full programme of traditional highland events, including solo and massed piping, highland dancing and light and heavy athletics, the gathering attracts some of the country’s leading pipers, dancers and athletes. Having already completed a march round the local area in the morning, the arrival onto the games field at 1pm of the Lonach Highlanders, armed with traditional Loachaber axes and pikes, is a highlight of the day.

This year, to help mark the 175th gathering the Lonach Highlanders will be joined on their marches by the Atholl Highlanders, Europe’s only private army. The Atholl Highlanders last marched at the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games in 2000.

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

“The 175th Lonach Gathering is a major milestone for the society and the event itself.  It remains an important community event and the many thousands of visitors we welcome to the gathering each year gives the local area a major boost.

“This year’s event is shaping up to a great occasion and will feature the traditional mix of dancing, piping and light and heavy athletics. We are keen for locals and visitors to really get involved by sharing their memories of past gatherings and also help us to document the event’s evolution.

“Whether the pictures or videos were taken in recent years or decades ago, it would be fantastic to see them all. If any company can help us to display these pictures at the gathering, or is interested in sponsoring part of the event, we’d be interested to hear from them.

“One constant at each games has been the Lonach Highlanders. They create a stirring sight and sound as they depart Bellabeg at 8am to begin their march around the local area and always receive a rousing welcome as they enter the games arena at 1pm. We are honoured that the Atholl Highlanders will be marching with the Lonach men this year to help us mark our 175th gathering.”

1. Looking through some of the Lonach archive (L to R) George Thomson, Jennifer Stewart, Willie Coutts and Scott Anderson

Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, looks through some of the society’s archive, which includes photographs, programmes and posters, with Lonach Highlanders (L to R) George Thomson, Willie Coutts and Scott Anderson

Anyone with old photographs or videos of the Lonach Gathering should e-mail them to info@lonach.org. Where possible, old photographs should be scanned to 300dpi and any video footage should be provided as a WMV file.

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.

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