Two Deeside musicians beat off tough competition to secure victory at the 33rd Bothy Ballads Champion of Champions in Elgin last weekend.
Once again a sell-out crowd gathered in Elgin Town Hall on Saturday February 7 to see Finzean’s Hector Riddell claim first prize in the Rotary Club competition.
The competitors this year were Geordie Murison, defending champion from last year, along with Shona Donaldson of Tarland, Bill Gray, Hector Riddell of Finzean, Moira Stewart and Sandy Thomson, all of whom qualified by winning regional contests over the course of the year.
The compere for the evening was Jim Taylor, from Skene and the judges this year were Pete Shepheard from Cupar and Jimmy Hutchison from Newburgh Fife.
Entertainment was provided during the evening by Pat Fraser from Aberlour and Ill Tricket, a group of young musicians from Keith.
After a close fought completion the Macallan Porridge Bowl and Spurtle were presented to Hector Riddell with Bill Gray taking 2nd place and Shona Donaldson 3rd.
Mr Riddell, 77, wowed the judges with his rendition of Sleepytoon, a look back at the hard working life of staff on the Sleepytoon farm in the 19th century.
Speaking of his win, Mr Riddell said: “It was an excellent competition, and there was a huge crowd. It was very close, but we all knew it would be. Everyone was a winner in their own right. Taking part is the main thing, winning was a bonus, and we had a great night.
“This competition captures the way that farm workers amused themselves in really hard times.
“Hopefully, it gets the youngsters interested, and we can preserve the Doric language in the same was as Gaelic.”
This was the 2nd year the winner was also presented the Donald Ferguson Medal, in memory of Donald, a past Elgin Rotarian, who has sadly passed away, but was a great supporter of the competition over many years.
Judge Jimmy Hutchison said: “It was a wonderful night. If you told someone down south you were going to a Bothy Ballad evening in February in the north of Scotland, they might expect no more than a dozen people there, but the place was sold out, and it is a credit to the competition. I think it will keep going forever.”