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Durness Gathering 2024 chieftains revealed

By Caroline McMorran

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A couple who have made significant contributions to the local community in the fields of music, health care and gamekeeping over many years, are to serve as chieftains of the Durness Highland Gathering 2024.

Organisers announced this week that Donnie and Katie MacDougall will preside over the popular games which take place on Friday, July 26.

Donnie and Katie MacDougall will preside over Durness Highland Gathering.
Donnie and Katie MacDougall will preside over Durness Highland Gathering.

Donnie, a former gamekeeper, moved to Durness in 1979 while Katie, a midwife, arrived nine years later to take up the post of district nurse/midwife for the Durness, Kinlochbervie and Scourie area.

She had previously worked as a community midwife in the Braes area of Falkirk.

The couple were married in 2004.

After moving north, Donnie continued his gamekeeping activities in a variety of ways, including running a hatchery, restocking lochs and helping to run a local clay pigeon group, where he was always willing to coach anyone who showed potential.

Katie continued her nursing career, delivering babies and helping many families and individuals over the years. She was well known for going above and beyond the call of duty.

A spokesperson for Durness Highland Gathering said: “With her great knowledge and caring nature, Katie was a great asset to medical care in the north-west Sutherland area and beyond.”

Both talented accordion players, Donnie and Katie are well known for their love of music and willingness to share their knowledge and skills with others. It was their love of music that brought them together.

They were both part of a very successful Durness Music Group which was set up to teach children and adults how to play various musical instruments.

Donnie and Katie also became a very popular accordion duo, performing at many local events and occasions.

Donnie is a founder member of the very well known local band Blue Ridge, who have provided entertainment at many events throughout the Highlands and beyond over the years.

Both Donnie and Katie’s families will be joining them on their big day on July 26.

In keeping with tradition, the couple will meet members of the pipe band in the village square before marching onto the games field at Shore Park and declaring the games open.

The Durness Highland Gathering is the most north-westerly of Scotland’s Highland Games and follows an ever-popular format. There are piping and dancing competitions, as well as athletics and heavy events.A variety of food drink and craft stalls will be available.

For more information visit the gathering’s Facebook page.

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