Communities across Scotland may be reeling after this year’s Highland Games calendar was completely wiped out, but the Games are nothing if not resilient.
That’s the view of Scottish Highland Games Association (SHGA) secretary Ian Grieve, who has insisted the showpiece events will be back in 2021.
“The calendar of Highland Games this year may now be empty, but that doesn’t mean we’re sitting back.
“We have a few surprises already and more on the way.”
With all their 60-plus member Highland Games now confirmed as cancelled, 2020 will have none of the traditional events, some of which have been running for centuries.
It also leaves many small communities without their only gathering of townsfolk, often the only place locals can participate in sports in front of a crowd.
The impact on local economies, tourism and small traders who bring their crafts to the games is keenly felt.
However, the SHGA says some members around the country have tackled the situation with surprising responses.
Ian said: “Strathmore has shown online how to make a fun caber for kids, Aboyne has an online solo piping competition, Ballater will be raising the standard and inviting supporters to send in clips, Stirling is lining up some virtual activities which people can participate in, and we have others looking to do more with online resources to deliver something that will interest, excite and entertain.
“Meanwhile, the athletes, dancers and pipers aren’t resting on their laurels: many continue to practice with virtual demonstration and competition events showcasing their skills.
“There’s a great podcast Life Behind the Trig which has athletes in heavyweight disciplines sharing experiences, and our partner governing bodies for Piping and Dancing are also rising to the challenge.”
While Ian admits the loss of events in 2020 is “dreadful, with wide impacts”, he believes the Games are being positive about the future.
“We’re already planning for next year, to come back stronger, better: welcoming back all our supporters and friends, hopefully some new ones too, people who haven’t attended a Highland games before.
“I would urge you to think about helping your local games, come and make a difference.”
Much more about the SHGA and activities this year and next is available on the SHGA website www.shga.co.uk.
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