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Rotary Club of Forres hosted 11 Australians during a two-week Rotary Friendship Exchange


By Garry McCartney

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The visitors and their Forres Rotary hosts.
The visitors and their Forres Rotary hosts.

VISITORS from ‘down under’ enjoyed four days in Forres during a two-week Rotary Friendship Exchange tour of Scotland.

A team of 11 Rotarians from Australia visited the town during Scottish Week, staying with local Rotary members, also holidaying in Kirriemuir, Aberdeen and East Sutherland.

Team leader Wendy Scarlett was impressed by the sights and the history.

She said: “The hospitality we were shown in Forres was amazing and we could feel a great community atmosphere there.

“The Toun Mercat in particular was testament to the many volunteers in your community - the support from locals for the event was incredible.”

Organised by local Rotarian Sheena McGillivray, the stay was busy for the guests and hosts, with visits to Culloden, Plockton and a talk from Rotarian Brian Higgs about Scotch whisky.

In Kyle of Lochalsh after a scenic journey west by train.
In Kyle of Lochalsh after a scenic journey west by train.

Some of the local attractions enjoyed by the team included a guided visit to the Tolbooth, Nelson's Tower and Grant Park.

Rotarian Michael Rhind showed the group Forres In Bloom’s displays while providing information on the centenary of the gifting of the park to the community by Sir Alexander Grant.

He said: “We moved through the Sunken Gardens and I described Forres House and the history of the site. I also pointed out the new Forres House - the community centre - as well as the wishing well that Rotary looks after.

“After that, I took them up through Cluny Hill to Nelson’s Tower where I discussed its history.”

Some of the tour party at Nelson’s Tower.
Some of the tour party at Nelson’s Tower.

Michael guided the visitors through Helge’s Hole to the picnic area maintained by the Rotary and past the Rhododendron named after Hugh Falconer.

He described the careers of Forres’ two most famous sons while the Aussie’s enjoyed tea and (digestive) biscuits.

The party carried on through Cluny Hill cemetery to Sir Grant’s gravestone, while Michael pointed out other influential members of the town’s history.

They finished the tour at the cricket pitch where they witnessed hundreds of children and parents taking part in the Rotary colour run.

A traditional barbecue meal for the Australian visitors - Scotland style.
A traditional barbecue meal for the Australian visitors - Scotland style.

“The Australians were impressed by our long and varied history,” said Michael, “and how much the town has to offer. They hadn’t realised how people from such a small town up north has had such a big effect on the history of the UK.

“They were amazed by the beauty of the surrounding area and the friendly nature of everyone we met along the way!”

“Nelson’s Tower has such fantastic views,” added Wendy. “The Tolbooth was interesting too, with so many uses over the centuries. It’s fantastic to see it being taken care of by Forres Heritage Trust and used by so many community groups now. They are a real asset to Forres.”

Rotarians from Scotland will head to northern New South Wales and southern Queensland in October.

Wendy finished: “We have arrived back in Australia after a wonderful experience in Scotland.

“We appreciated so much what Forres Rotary did to make our visit interesting and memorable.”


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