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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Jul 212016
 

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

Lonach Hall defibrillator - Jennifer Stewart, Lonach Society, and Paul Hicks, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

Jennifer Stewart  with Paul Hicks of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and members of the Lonach Highlanders and local firefighters.

The organisers of the annual Lonach Highland Gathering and Games, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, have launched a fundraising campaign to install lifesaving equipment in upper Strathdon.

The society has launched an appeal to raise nearly £7,000 to fund the purchase of four public access defibrillators that will be installed at venues in the Aberdeenshire valley.

It follows the installation of a defibrillator, funded by the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, at the Lonach Hall.

Defibrillators give someone suffering a cardiac arrest more time while ambulances get to a patient’s location. It is estimated that every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces a person’s chance of survival by 10 per cent. In remote, rural locations such as Strathdon, where the nearest major hospital is over 40 miles away in Aberdeen, access to defibrillation could prove vital.

Retained firefighters from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s Strathdon fire station, which is made up mainly of Lonach Highland and Friendly Society members, were on hand at the unveiling of the Lonach Hall defibrillator.

The Strathdon fire station, like Scotland’s other 355 fire stations, acts as a base for local people to learn vital CPR skills that can potentially save someone’s life. The training is provided in partnership with British Heart Foundation Scotland, which has donated Call Push Rescue training kits to the stations. Anyone interested in this free CPR training should contact their local fire station.

To provide the rural community with the potentially lifesaving defibrillators, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society is seeking support from local businesses, organisations and local benefactors to help fund the purchase. The four bright green ‘shock boxes’ will be placed in prominent public locations throughout the rural Aberdeenshire community.

Public access defibrillators are designed for anyone to use on someone in cardiac arrest. The devices talk users through the steps required, including CPR and patient analysis, and will only deliver a shock to the patient if it detects that one is required. This means that there is no chance of malicious or accidental usage.

The sites earmarked to host one of the devices are Glenbuchat Hall, Corgarff Hall and locations in Glenkindie and Kildrummy.

Lonach Hall was chosen to host Strathdon’s first defibrillator due to its role as an important community facility. The well-used venue has been a fixture of the Bellabeg area since 1845 and hosts a range of functions, including weddings, concerts, meetings, dances and corporate events. It is also the venue for the annual Lonach Highland Ball which is organised by the society and is held the week following the annual Lonach Highland Gathering.

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

“The society was founded to preserve highland culture and promote community cohesion and charitable giving, all of which still run through its core today. Supporting the local community is imperative to the society and our annual gathering continues to make a significant contribution to the local economy. We always strive to increase the scope of that contribution and this fundraising initiative is part of that.

“Strathdon is a beautiful, rural location, but one that can take some time for emergency services to get to. Defibrillators can prove crucial to increasing the chances of a patient’s survival in the minutes before an ambulance arrives. With a predominately older population, installing these pieces of lifesaving kit in the local area makes a lot of sense, particularly as no such provision currently exists.

“Applications for grant funding have been made, but any contribution from businesses, organisations or individuals would be warmly received. Our aim is to raise enough funding to have the additional four defibrillators installed by the end of 2016.”

This year sees the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society’s showpiece event reach a major milestone. The 175th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games will take place in Bellabeg on Saturday, 27 August. To mark the anniversary, the Lonach Highlanders will be joined at the games and on their march round the local area prior to the games commencing by the Atholl Highlanders, Europe’s only private army.

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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Jun 302016
 

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

BVW Panto Horse TrialsResidents of a Deeside community are being called on to have sandbags at the ready – for a fun stunt designed to put a smile on faces as it prepares for its annual summer extravaganza.

Hundreds of sandbags were filled and put to use to try and defend Ballater from Storm Frank and the deluge it brought to the Deeside area in December last year.

Now with the floods firmly behind them, organisers of Ballater Victoria Week have come up with a tongue-in-cheek competition which they hope will raise a few smiles.

They are appealing to villagers to decorate leftover sandbags and share photos of their creations on social media.

As well as injecting a bit of humour, the novel competition points to how the community has galvanised and moved on following the flooding. The most liked picture on Facebook will be judged winner of best decorated sandbag – earning its owner £50.

“Just for fun we are inviting people to decorate a sandbag,” said Ade Scipps of the Ballater Victoria Week committee.

“There’s bound to be a few spare ones knocking around and they could be turned into a favourite character, use it to plant flowers, or whatever people like. We just want to cheer the village up and give people something to chuckle about as they go about their day. It’s a smaller scale creative competition which complements our scarecrow trail, which sees a weird and wonderful array of life-size scarecrows popping up in locations around Ballater.”

Ballater Victoria Week takes place from August 5-14 with its biggest programme to date.

As well as established favourites, like the vehicle parade and Sunday fayre, duck race, scarecrow trail, pantomime horse trials, ghost tours, films, quizzes, sports and music there are a few new events are in the offing too, like a Rio 2016 Onesie Party when villagers are encouraged to get into party mode by gathering together to watch the opening ceremony on a big screen in the V&A Halls and the ‘Weel Kirkit’ heritage walks led by a professional story teller.

Over the years Victoria Week has raised thousands of pounds for local causes and continually seeks to renew and refresh itself by reflecting current trends and initiatives.

It offers another chance for the community of Ballater to celebrate and enjoy some fun after the floods gave the area the most challenging start to the year.

DSCN2916With its close connections to Balmoral Castle, the Royal Family’s summer home, Ballater pulled out all the stops to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday earlier in June when hundreds of people of all aged gathered for the Happy Birthday Ma’am street party.

Organisers of Ballater Victoria Week hope to see the same show of community spirit with another well-earned opportunity for villagers to have fun and let their hair down. The annual party week has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 1987 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s accession, raising thousands of pounds for local charities along the way.

Among the highlights of the 10 day extravaganza is Ballater Highland Games which takes place on Thursday, August 11 and includes sports, hill race, Highland dancing and much more.

With Ballater Victoria Week enjoyed by both local residents and visitors alike, Richard Watts, chair of the Ballater Business Association is pleased to see it develop and grow in 2016.

“The resilience and determination to get over the floods has been quite remarkable and everyone is keen to get over the message that Ballater is back on its feet and is very much open for business,” says Mr Watts.

“Organisers of Ballater Victoria Week work really hard to put together an action-packed programme with events to appeal to people of all ages. Locals and visitors alike will be welcome to join in the fun and there will be plenty of cheer and chuckles along the way.”

Balmoral Castle remains a favourite summer retreat for the Royal Family, and Ballater is often referred to as the ‘Royal Warrant Town’, due to the large number of businesses that hold the prestigious mark of recognition to those who supply goods or services to the Households of HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales.

For more information about Ballater Victoria Week visit the website http://www.ballatervictoriaweek.co.uk/

BVA is also active on social media at http://www.ballatervictoriaweek.co.uk/

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Jun 032016
 

AIYF 81 - Credit Graeme MacDonald featJulia Heys,Marketing Executive,VisitAberdeenshire.

Leading festivals from across Aberdeen are to come together to cross-programme an entertainment marquee at the Aberdeen Highland Games later this month [Sunday Jun 19].

For the second year running, Aberdeen Festivals, a group of 10 multi-arts festivals, will deliver a line-up of art, science, workshops and live entertainment at the Highland Games, held annually at Hazlehead Park.

Spectra, Aberdeen Jazz Festival, Look Again, May Festival, Aberdeen International Youth Festival (AIYF), TechFest, North East Open Studios, TrueNorth, DanceLive and sound, will all present activities, performances or workshops as part of the main programme.

Steve Harris, Chair of Aberdeen Festivals and CEO of VisitAberdeenshire, commented:

“Last year, our presence at the Highland Games was a huge success. We saw upwards of 2,000 people make their way through the tent, with adults and children having a great time alike. This year we have another exciting programme packed full of entertainment and we look forward to welcoming visitors to the Aberdeen Festivals marquee.”

Sponsored by leading energy firm Statoil UK, Aberdeen Festivals is a revolutionary cultural initiative bringing together 10 member festivals. The group, set up in early 2014, works to raise the profile of festivals in the North-east as well as grow audiences through joined up marketing campaigns.

The Aberdeen Festivals Entertainment Marquee will open at 10am and run until 4.30pm. Highlights include art exhibitions from Look Again and North East Open Studios, hands-on children’s activities from Techfest and May Festival as well as live performances from True North and AIYF.

Sarah Chew, Managing Director of TechFest, added;

“Over the past two years our involvement with the Aberdeen Festivals project has seen us not only increase awareness but also significantly boost our audience levels. Working together at events like the Aberdeen Highland Games lets us showcase the truly unique and diverse offering of all the festivals in Aberdeen.”

The Aberdeen Highland Games will take place on Sunday 19 June from 10am-5.30pm at Hazlehead Park, Aberdeen.

Aberdeen Festivals is a cultural initiative sponsored by Statoil and is supported by VisitAberdeenshire and Aberdeen City Council. More information can be found at aberdeenfestivals.com.

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