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‘We owe so much to Mattie’ — Community celebrate Kings’ birthday honour for Golspie stalwart Alasdair Matheson

By Niall Harkiss

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Golspie Gala Week president Alasdair Matheson with Geordie Jack, who opened last year's event. Picture: Golspie Gala Week
Golspie Gala Week president Alasdair Matheson with Geordie Jack, who opened last year's event. Picture: Golspie Gala Week

People across east Sutherland have expressed their congratulations after a much-loved Golspie volunteer was awarded the British Empire Medal in this year’s King’s Birthday Honours List.

Golspie’s Alasdair James Matheson was one of several Highland figures named in this year’s list, and will be presented with the honour in recognition of his services to the Sutherland village.


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The 86-year-old, affectionately known as “Mattie”, has served on the committee of Golspie Gala Association since its inception in 1973.

He initially took up the role of vice-president before later being elected as president - and has been noted as “the driving force” behind the success of the Golspie Gala Week.

Golspie residents took to social media to express their delight at Mr Matheson’s recognition, with comments shared such as:

“Half a century of hard work and devotion to Golspie Gala Week, we salute you!”

“Congratulations Mattie, a well deserved award for all the hard work you have done over the years to put Golspie on the map.”

Richard Gale, councillor for the East Sutherland and Edderton ward, echoed the sentiments of the village, stating that he could think of “no more deserving recipient” for the award.

He said: “The whole community has been delighted that Alasdair’s commitment to the village has been recognised.

“I can think of no more deserving recipient of this award in the Kings Birthday Honours list.

“Alasdair’s contribution to the Golspie Gala week in particular has been phenomenal with him being involved from the very beginning over 50 years ago.

“I would like to add my congratulations to the many posts on social media, where it is clear how warmly this award has been received by the community.”

A spokesperson for Golspie Gala Week said: “We are absolutely bursting with pride over Mattie being awarded the Order of the British Empire Medal.

“After 50 years of dedicated service to the community, it is a well-deserved accolade.”

Lord-Lieutenant for Sutherland, Major General Patrick Marriott, who will present Mr Matheson with his medal on behalf of King Charles III, said: “Mr Alasdair Matheson, known to everyone as Mattie, is an extraordinary man. His dedication to Golspie Gala week for over fifty years has been exceptional.

“The Gala has come to represent the very best of Golspie. It is a week when friends and family, kith and kin return for a week of celebration and laughter. For a brief few days frictions and worries are put aside.

“But perhaps more importantly, gala now represents the pinnacle of Golspie’s reputation as a welcoming and friendly place. It is a village where, very genuinely, all folk are properly welcomed and “strangers are entertained” - as we are commanded to do.

“We owe so much of this to Mattie - who has led the Golspie Gala for so many years with real thought and diligence - and a great sense of fun.

“I much look forward to presenting him, on behalf of the King, his well deserved British Empire Medal in due course.”

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