Weather scotches town’s Highland Games for the first time in 33 years

AFTER 33 years Montrose Highland Games finally fell victim to the weather when they were cancelled completely early on Sunday morning.

It was the first time since the games were revived in 1978 that the plug had to be pulled on the event, although organisers still managed to salvage the crowning of Rose Queen Kenzie Howard and the dancing competitions, which were held in the Old and St Andrew’s Church hall.

Committee chairwoman Robina Addison said the torrential rain overnight on Saturday and into Sunday morning meant the games, a firm feature in the town calendar which regularly attracts crowds of around 5,000 or more, were a washout even before they started.

She said: “In my heart I wanted it to go on but my head said no and we just wouldn’t have got the spectators.

“We’ve lost a lot of money as we have to pay for the toilets, fencing and security but if we had gone ahead with we would probably have lost a lot more. We managed to resurrect the dancing, and had about 90 competitors in the church hall, and we managed to save the Rose Queen crowning. That was carried out by games chieftain David Valentine, who also presented the dancing prizes.

“It was hard making the decision as there was a lot of hard work by the committee and it’s so sad when that goes to waste after the effort everyone has put in. We started phoning round as many people as possible from about 8.15am on the day.”

Mrs Addison also said the committee relies on admission money to help finance the following year’s games, although the impact of this year’s losses will be cushioned to an extent by a sponsorship deal with GlaxoSmithKline for next year’s event.

She added that the games cannot be rescheduled due to Scottish Highland Games Association (SHGA) rules.

Mrs Addison said: “We’re registered with the SHGA and each games have their allocated day. If they don’t go ahead on that day, then that’s it. The actual problem was not having people coming through the gates and although the field looked good when we’d finished setting up on Saturday night, it didn’t by Sunday. We’d bought new canopies to put over the dancing boards in case of light rain but even they had buckled because of the weight of water on them.

“We rely on the gate money but felt we had to cut our losses and hope we have something left for next year. As it’s Glaxo’s 60th anniversary next year the company has agreed to sponsor the event and that will take off some of the pressure.

“I’d like to thank the committee members for their work and all the caterers, stall-holders and everyone who supported us but that’s the risk you take and they were all very understanding. We all felt sorry about having to cancel but it was a decision that had to be made.”

The major prize-winners from the dancing competitions were: Beginners 7 years and under - Christy Graham (Dundee); Beginners 9 years and under - Hannah Greig (Montrose); Beginners 12 years and under - Sherie Thomson (Stonehaven).

Novice 9 years and under - Carly Mooney (Tayport); Novice 12 years and under - Kirsten Milne (Montrose).

Intermediate 9 years and under - Rowan Waddell (Forfar); Intermediate 12 years and under - Jordan Fowlie (Laurencekirk).

Premier 9 years and under - Jessica Baillie (Letham); Premier 11 years and under Niamh McSheffrey (Kirriemuir); Premier 13 years and under - Airlie McIntyre (Dundee); Premier 16 years and under - Kerry Meehan (Stonehaven); Premier Adult - Neryssa Cooper (Australia).