Lonach calls for sponsorship to boost event

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A Donside organisation hopes to make a greater contribution to the economy by providing promotional opportunities for local businesses.

Established in 1823, the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society has been supporting the local community in Strathdon for nearly two centuries.

The costs involved in holding the Gathering have increased.

This year it hopes to boost the local economy further by providing more promotional and sponsorship opportunities for local businesses to promote their services at its annual highland gathering and games.

Held annually on the fourth Saturday in August, the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games is one of north-east Scotland’s best known and most popular traditional summer events, attracting up to 10,000 visitors annually. However, with costs associated with holding outdoor events increasing, organisers are looking to boost the level of income through sponsorship, and are encouraging local businesses that wish to support the gathering to get in touch.

The event, held in the village of Bellabeg, has traditionally attracted celebrity guests including Billy Connolly and the late Robin Williams.

This year’s gathering, on Saturday, August 22, marks the 174th time the games have been staged.

Jennifer Stewart, secretary of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said: “The society was established to promote social and benevolent feelings among the inhabitants of Strathdon. Today our focus has evolved into supporting the local economy through the gathering and the visitors it attracts, and increasing the number of events held at the Lonach Hall.

“The costs involved in holding the Gathering have increased. We’re not alone in this, colleagues at highland games up and down the country tell us they are facing the same issues.

“Our unique location in the heart of Strathdon places additional pressures on the event. We are deemed to be in an ‘extra rural’ area by the emergency services, meaning we have to have two ambulances in attendance, which increases costs.”

Further information on the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society and how to get involved can be found at www.lonach.org.