LAST YEAR we were blessed with another sunny day for the Nairn Games and of course we never know what the good old Scottish weather is going to throw at us.
At the time of writing I recall the great spirit shown last year by tens of thousands of people in London who simply wrapped up well, put up their brollies and got on with it for the Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. The heavens opened but it didn’t lessen the enjoyment of what was a wonderful occasion.
I hope our supporters and visitors enjoy some lovely Nairn sunshine today and can enjoy their experience of the only free Highland Games in Scotland in what is a breath-taking setting at the links beside the Moray Firth.
The challenges of staging such an event of this scale are ever present and no sooner will the curtain come down after the last caber is thrown this afternoon than the committee will be putting plans in place for next year. It’s a monumental effort by a handful of faithful volunteers and to them all I thank them for the great commitment of time and skills they offer to ensure the games run without a hitch.
We have been faced with major challenges for this our 136th games. More than a dozen qualified officials and judges who normally attend have been deployed to another major athletics event in Aberdeen – something which was entirely outwith the control of the committee. But we have managed to put together a team to ensure our programme will run smoothly in the finest traditions of the Nairn Games and according to the rules of the Scottish Amateur Athletics Association.
In town this weekend we have special visitors from the MG Car Club who are staging a rally with over 300 beautiful classic and vintage vehicles parked up at the Farmers’ Showfield. A couple of them are on show here at the Links today and we hope you will take the opportunity to see them during the course of the afternoon.
A legacy from the Homecoming Scotland event has been the flying of some of the Commonwealth flags and the Stars and Stripes of the USA. Today we will have flags from all around the world being carried by MG Car Club members in the opening parade adding to the colour and spectacle of the occasion.
That it all comes together and runs smoothly on the day never ceases to amaze me and I know without the loyal support of these volunteers and the efforts of Highland Council Tec Services staff it would not be possible to bring this event together.
In last year’s programme we ran a special feature with coverage of the Games in the Coronation Year in 1952 from our local paper The Nairnshire Telegraph. And today again through the kind auspices of our local paper we carry an account of the Games years gone by which we hope is of interest to our readers.
We are forever grateful to the Nairnshire for the exposure it gives to the Games, publishing all our results and lots of photographs we can treasure for years to come.
It goes without saying it is a special event in the town’s calendar and visitors will be interested to know that exiles from Nairn travel from all over the world to be here to catch up with old friends on this special day.
To say we live in challenging times is an understatement and as convener I would like to thank everyone who has sponsored an event, become a Friend of the Nairn Games or puts a pound in the collection boxes which you will see come round the arena this afternoon. I would again remind everyone of course that The Nairn Games are unique in that they are the only free games in Scotland. The only seats that are paid for are those inside the arena fence and that income of course goes towards offsetting our not inconsiderable costs.
The committee depends on the generosity and goodwill of the public and many local businesses who generously support us. In recent years we have lost major sponsors but we are grateful for the continuing support of Macallan Whisky for this year’s event and of course the many other sponsors you will see mentioned in the programme. Not forgetting of course our Friends of Nairn Games who pledge their support with an annual donation of £10. (Details about joining Friends of Nairn Games can be found elsewhere in the programme).
To exiled locals who have been enjoying the ‘hamecoming reunions’ in local hostelries this weekend I hope these events have been all you could have wished them to be and that you have met up with many old friends and are enjoying your day out at the Games. As Convener it is my pleasure to welcome you all – whether your journey has been short or long – and I hope you enjoy the afternoon of competition.
Thanks to our Games chieftain Lord Cawdor who has donated special prizes for the overall winner of the heavies events and the Tug Of War competition which has been consolidated into one competition – an open event this year. And I would like to express my gratitude to all officials and our dancing and piping judges who oversee their competitions and Nairn Road Runners who are responsible for organising the Half-Marathon.
One of the most popular innovations to the Nairn Games of recent years has been the parade of the massed pipe bands and I would like to take this opportunity of thanking all the band members who travel from as far afield as Caithness in the north to Aberdeenshire in the east and Skye in the west. It is the biggest massed bands parade at any Games in Scotland and we know from speaking to people how much pleasure the spectacle of the bands marching on to the arena means to everyone. We thank them all again for their attendance here today and hope it will continue to be a feature at Nairn for many years to come.
To the athletes, pipers and dancers I wish you the very best in all your endeavours today and I am sure we can all look forward to another memorable gathering.
The Macallan Nairn Highland Games Committee
Chieftain: Lord Cawdor
Convener: S Ross
Committee Secretary: S Farrell
Treasurer: G Forbes
Athletics / Entries Secretary: S Ross
Committee: E. Mann, B Tucker, I. Finlayson, K. Bruce, Cllr C. Macaulay, L.Rutter, D.Morrison, H.Allison, D.Wilson, M.Oag, L.Macaulay, D. Prior, J. Dolan.
For more information you can contact:
Call Gordon Forbes on 01667 452422
(For trade stances phone Lynne MacLennan on 01667 458552)
Pipe Band Enquiries
Call Lyn Rutter on 01667 451075
Call Alister Stewart on 01667 462173