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Locals rally as marquees hammered at Helmsdale Games

By Staff Reporter

Roma Macrae, standard bearer; chieftain Michael Gill and his wife Janie, and flower girl Olivia Mackay
Roma Macrae, standard bearer; chieftain Michael Gill and his wife Janie, and flower girl Olivia Mackay

A SUNNY day brought record crowds to the annual Helmsdale and District Highland Games.

Following local events and the mini Highland Games for children in the morning, proceedings got under way at noon with the Chieftains Parade from the village led by three pipe bands, followed by this years standard bearer Roma Macrae, chieftain Michael Gill and former chieftains. Also in the parade were special guests Lord and Lady McNeep – professional stilt walkers who were very popular throughout the day.

Chairman Andy Sutherland welcomed everyone and said a special thank you to everyone who responded to a plea on Facebook after, due to freak weather conditions, both large marquees were threatened with severe damage.

He said: “Within 10 minutes of our appeal there were 20 people on the park who worked tirelessly all day to make marquees safe then re-erected them in the evening.”

The chairman then introduced Mr Gilland asked outgoing chieftain Alan Macrae to hand over the Chieftain’s Medal.

Olivia Mackay presented gifts to both the chieftain and his wife Jane.

The afternoon saw a full programme of heavyweight, dancing, and track and field events to keep the visitors entertained.

Fly casting, clay pigeon shooting and novelty events were open for all to try in the adjoining park. The afternoon’s events are always closed by the tug of war competition – again won by Helmsdale Harbour Users who donated their prize money to the Bunillidh Football Club Children’s Christmas Party Fund.

The SGA Scottish Hill Race championship event is one of the highlights of the day – run over a 3.75 mile course where spectators can clearly follow the runners over Helmsdale rock from the park.

This year’s winner was James Espie, from Dinnet near Aboyne, in a time of 24 minutes 15 seconds. The first lady home was Catriona Morrison from Kingussie in a time of 29.10.

A special mention also to the three local ladies who completed the course – well done to Annalee Robertson, Fiona Sutherland Young and Claire Plass.

Early evening entertainment began at 5pm with music from Ruaridh Maclean (Ullapool). The pipe bands played in the square in the early evening with what has now become a popular and regular feature – Strip the Willow – along Dunrobin Street. Rhythm ‘n’ Reel also made a popular return to the marquee dance, keeping the tent bouncing until the end.

A special thank you went to the weary band of helpers who turned out on Sunday to help clear the park.

Next year will be the 40th year of Helmsdale Highland Games.

The committee are looking for information or photos that anyone may have from 1981-1984 games.

Helmsdale Games first took place in 1891 and continued between and after the war years.

If anyone has any information they can share with the committee they would be most grateful. Photographs are now archived in Timespan and available for public to view.


HEAVY EVENTS -Navidale House Hotel Trophy (Open Heavy Hammer), Jamie Gunn. Halkirk, Anderson Murray Cup (Caber tossing), Jamie Gunn Edward Mackay Trophy (Best Open Athlete) -Jamie GunnBannockburn Trophy (Confined) – Jamie Gunn Frank Macpherson Salver (Weight by Height, Confined) – Jamie Gunn Angus Ross Bowl (Local Junior Heavyweight) – Findlay Adams, Aaron Grant. Hugh Ross Memorial Shield ( Best Heavyweight Athlete confined to Sutherland) – Duncan Mackay

HILL RACE – Andy and Laura Murray Cup (Winner Open) – James Espie Dinnet.

Tommy Knox Cup (Confined 16yrs/under) – Finbar Plass. Charles Sutherland Memorial Cup (Winner, Adult Confined) – David Riach, HelmsdaleSonny and Robin Trophy (Youngest Competitor to finish) –Luke Ainsworth Klibreck Trophy (Ladies Hill Race) Catriona Morrison. Kingussie

Graham Cameron Memorial Trophy (Junior/Confined 10 – 12 yrs) –.Roy Hendy Shield (Open youth Hill Race) –Finbar Plass Sandy Davidson Memorial Trophy (1st Girl, confined) -N/A

CYCLING – Sutherland Bros Salver, James B Cowie Cup (1800m) -Charles Fletcher

TRACK AND FIELD – Lemon and Co Cup (best Athlete) – Stewart Clark Rapsons Coaches (Best Athlete, confined) –. Marrel Trophy (Open 1500m) – Charles Fletcher

A McCorquodale trophy ( 100m confined to parish)- Liam Innes

DANCING- Murray Cup (Confined to Parish) – Dawn Cowie. Helmsdale. Dudgeon Cup (Best Dancer Open Over 16yrs) – Cara Wilson (Dingwall) Janet Murray Memorial Shield

(Highland Fling, Open) – Grace Sutherland. Wick. Iona Macdonald Shield (Confined to Sutherland) – Dawn Cowie. Kate Mackay Memorial Trophy (Sailors Hornpipe/confined to Sutherland) – Dawn Cowie Alex Innes Memorial Quaich (Sailors Hornpipe, Open 16yrs/over) – CaraWilson. Carol Findlay Memorial Trophy (Best Overall Dancer – Open Under 16) Erin Moran Beauly Tommy Sutherland Memorial Cup – Chloe Stewart Shirley McCulloch Trophy (Overall 12yrs/under) – Rebecca Sinclair.

PIPING – Sinclair Family Rosebowl, (Best piper), Alasdair Fraser Bob Mackay Memorial Cup (Strathspey and Reel) – Duncan MacGillvary. Hugh Macpherson Memorial Trophy (Open Piobaireachd)- Alisdair Fraser. Strathullie Targe, (Confined), Gregor and Duncan MacGillvary M&T Macbeath (Junior piping) – Morven Miller ( Watten)

Clan Gunn Quaich (15-18yrs)/John Taylor Cup (March – 15/18yrs) – Daniel Murray

FLY CASTING – Roy Hendy Shield (Confined Junior Salmon Casting) – Findlay Adams, Roy Hendy Shield (Confined trout Casting) – Findlay Adams, Achentoul Shield (Open Fly Casting ) Daniel LogiePete Carson Trophy ( Confined Salmon Casting/Distance) – Duncan Mackay George Hardie Memorial Shield (Confined trout Casting/Accuracy) – Findlay Adams Sandy Macleod Memorial Trophy (Overall Fly Casting/Confined to Parish ), Laura Sinclair trophy ( Trout casting/Confined to Parish)– Peter Quail.

NOVELTY – Homecliffe Shield (Ladies Haggis hurling)- Julie Baxter ( Wick)

Bunillidh Thistle Shield (Ladies/Throwing Besom) – Cath Edie . Wellie hurling (Men Only) – Chris Graham

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