Aboyne enjoys a highland fling

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In their 146th year, Aboyne Highland games welcomed thousands of spectators to the Green to share in the cultural heritage of Scotland.

With stalls in abundance for local charities and organisations, plenty of pipes, a rare spread of local cuisine and the blatant hospitality of the hosts the day was one not to be missed.

Chieftain of the games, the Marquess of Huntly, used his opening speech to celebrate the games dedication to keeping the old ways alive.

He said: “We try very hard to be traditional at the games and do things the way they have always been done and I said in my notes in the program this year that the games will remain as they used to be and that little Cosmo (the Marquess’ three year old son) will see and find exactly the same sight when he comes to run the games himself in many years time.

“We have next year the homecoming, which is a big event in Scotland, and the Aboyne games has been recognised as a suitable place for visitors to come and see a traditional highland games.”

The Maqrquess thanked the organisers, spectators and competitors and made special mention of veteran BBC broadcaster Dunecht’s Robbie Sheppard, commentator.

The Marquess said: “The only other person I’d like to mention is Robbie Shepherd who has come here as long as I can remember, his voice will be familiar to every single person here, and it is a wonderful thing to see him here supporting us again. When I hear his voice I get the feeling that everything will be alight.”

A touch of wind threatened to knock the hat clean off the Chieftan’s head while he made his speech but a slight adjustment and sturdy stance, negated the weathers intent.

As the standard was raised, to open the games, young singer Pandi Arthur, performed a beautiful, haunting rendition of Dark Lochnagar, demonstrating that despite it’s ancient routes and traditions, the games have strong support from younger generations, who the games’ future lies with.

Aboyne Games Chairman Iain Scott said: “The whole ethos of the Aboyne games is to replicate the historic games of the past but also to re-invent it for a new generation.

“Hence this year we have tried to combine the old and the new and its been the balance we’ve had to strike. The other thing is that we are blessed with the open space that is Aboyne green, a space that is very unique to Scotland.

“We have given cards to all our overseas visitors to mark where they are and there has been an incredible reponse to that. Next year is homecoming year so we’ll hope to see even more.”

“Scotland the Brave” played as the seven piper bands, Lonach, Ballater, Portsoy, Newtonhill, Ellon, Towie, Banchory paraded around the show-ground to open the event proper.

The crowd’s filled the grandstands and settled in for a day of events that have tested and delighted Scot’s for generations.

Clan tents, welcoming visitors with a shared name or heritage were open to the public as well, giving guests a chance to learn about the noble houses of the area and meet their descendants.

A tent in the clan area was set up specifically for international guests, who attended the games in good numbers.

Dijon-born Christian Allard, SNP MSP for the North-east said: “The games have become a very international event. We are seeing people from all around the globe enjoying the best of what Scotland can offer.”

The community pride and dedication to the games is reflected in the atmosphere they create.

A general ambience and warmth is extended to all.

Dennis Robertson SNP MSP for the N-e, with Mr Q,: “It is very important that we are seen in the constituency and are here to support the games and meet with the local community. Thankfully we’ve been lucky with the weather this year.”

With sporadic sun bursts and a pleasant breeze throughout, the weather did it’s part to keep the crowds content and constant and at the end of the day Chairman Ian Scott said: “There has been a great crowd and there’s a smile on our treasurer’s face!”