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All Fun and Games

Saturday 20th August, 2022

All photos in this post courtesy of Bryan Robertson Photography

As I have already mentioned, one of my reasons for returning to Scotland / Stirling in August was the Stirling Highland Games. I have been involved with the games since 2014 when I volunteered after the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, and have now also found myself on the organising committee and a trustee on the board of the charity it supports! (That's what happens when you volunteer!)

So here I was back to get the games sorted and of course it was our first event post-pandemic. For a number of reasons - not being sure about the market, supplier costs rocketing and other events in and around Stirling we decided to have a slightly more modest event than 2019 - but it still takes a lot of organising.

We have volunteers that have been coming almost as long as I have (largely cos I invited them!) and we got some brand new ones this year.

Thursday and Friday saw a small group of us setting up the ground - doing everything from moving barriers and bins to flower arranging (I have a brilliant friend who is great at it!).

On Saturday morning when I rose at 06:15 it was drizzling, by the time I got to the site at 08:00 it was pelting down - and it stayed like that for about an hour. Dismay set in - there are diehards who buy tickets in advance (mainly foreign tourists) who will put on their waterproofs and come - even in a downpour - but we also rely on locals who look out the window at 11am and make a decision about what they are going to do today. Luckily the sun came out shortly after 9 and the weather was fantastic all day - with the result that we had thousands of visitors (final number to be confirmed).

Those visitors could watch events - athletics, cycling and the traditional heavyweight events and highland dancing.

We also had a large marquee with crafts, food producers and various alcoholic drinks. This year we also had "adaptive" heavyweights - think of it as the "paralympics" of highland games - with the "wounded Highlanders" - ex servicemen with various disabilities participating in the throwing events.

Our flagship event is the Bruce Challenge in which the guys (and one girl) carry two large stones in a frame - the winner being the one who carries it the furthest. The girl was one of our volunteers who is a trained weightlifter - we don't recommend anyone just "having a go".

Stirling Highland Games - Bruce Challenge
The Bruce Challenge

The visitors do all love the Tossing the Caber event and it always draws a huge crowd.

I have the privilege of running the Chieftain's Gathering Marquee - where we entertain the chieftain (Ali McGrandles) and her guests as well as event sponsors and other people who support us. Our chieftain is always a son or daughter of Stirling who has made their mark in the world (Ali played rugby for Scotland).

Stirling Highland Games Chieftain 2022 Ali McGrandles
Chieftain Ali McGrandles

I was heard to say that I would be back next year! (Saturday 19th August, 2023 - get it in your diary and come along!)

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