A proud Highland honour as Mike becomes games chieftain

Mike Gill being presented with his trophy as a "heavy" event winner in the 80s
Mike Gill being presented with his trophy as a "heavy" event winner in the 80s

A Banchory man will pay a special family visit to the Highlands this summer.

Mike Gill has retained close links with Helmsdale Highland Games for nearly 40 years.

Mike Gill has been official photographer at the games for the last nine years

Mike Gill has been official photographer at the games for the last nine years

And in August he will have the ultimate honour of becoming the chieftain.

Mike, 67, was delighted to accept an invitation from officials who have appreciated the huge amount of work he has put in over the years.

The father-of-two successfully competed in heavy events in the early 80s and has been the event’s main photographer for the last nine years.

He has also digitally archived all games photos since 1981.

Mike Gill 'on duty' at the games

Mike Gill 'on duty' at the games

Mike, a retired oil industry project manager, lived in the village on Sutherland’s east coast from 1973 to 1988 where his parents owned the Belgrave Arms Hotel.

It was there he met and married local girl Jane Findlay.

Mike told the Piper: “It is such an honour to be asked to be chieftain and I’m really looking forward to it.

“I have had such a close link with the games over the years.

Mike Gill competes at Helmdale Highland Games in the 80s

Mike Gill competes at Helmdale Highland Games in the 80s

“It is lovely that the community appreciates me so much and I really feel part of the community up there.

“They always treat me as part of Helmsdale, which is great, even although we have been in Banchory for 30 years.

“It will be a really special trip this year and it will be great occasion.”

Jane said the family were delighted for Mike.

She added: “It is such an honour for him.

“We are all very proud and looking forward to what will be a special family event this summer.”

Mike played a key role in rivitalising the Helmsdale games in the early 80s.

He explained: “The games had stopped so it was decided to resurrect them in 1981.

“Being among the young guys at the time, I helped out and we used to set the stuff up and take part in the local heavy events.

“I won the heavy events three times and then I went to work offshore and obviously couldn’t attend.

“I maintained the connection and over the years, still with family up there, we have been going back and forth.”

Over the last nine years, Mike, who is keen on photography, has been the official games photographer.

He was approached by chairman Andy Sutherland towards the end of last year inviting him to become chieftain for 2019.

Mike praised the efforts put in by Andy and his wife Fiona, who is secretary.

He said: “From my point of view, they and their small team put a huge amount of work into the games.”

The committee is looking forward to welcoming Mike and his family to the games in August.

A post on the event’s Facebook page said: “We are delighted to tell you that Mike Gill will be our chieftain for 2019.

“We don’t think either Mike or his wife Jane need any introduction to the local community.

“We look forward to seeing Mike, Jane and family on Saturday, August 17, this year.”

Mike and Jane will be accompanied by family, and friends from Banchory, when they make the trip to the Highlands.