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Forres Highland Games organisers, competitors and attendees reflect on a successful 96th annual event


By Garry McCartney

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Large crowds gathered despite the weather.Picture: Beth Taylor
Large crowds gathered despite the weather.Picture: Beth Taylor

VISITORS from around the world attended a traditional event in Forres on Saturday - but perhaps not the traditional Scottish weather!

Despite the rain at the start of Forres Highland Games, and damp conditions for the remainder of the afternoon, the organisers confirmed more than 6000 people enjoyed a variety of sports, stalls and entertainment at Grant Park.

Alan Butler (left) and Andrew Earl take shelter from the rain.Picture: Beth Taylor
Alan Butler (left) and Andrew Earl take shelter from the rain.Picture: Beth Taylor

Games secretary, Mike Scott, confirmed there were a high number of entries for all of the events, including track and field athletics, cycling, piping and drumming contests, and a 10k road race.

He said: “The games went tremendously well despite heavy rain at 1pm when everyone took shelter then came back out.

“There were a lot of international visitors, including a lad from Perth, Australia who won the Vienenburg Trophy for best overseas piper.”

#212, #224 and #229 perform the Sword Dance in the Highland Dancing.Picture: Beth Taylor
#212, #224 and #229 perform the Sword Dance in the Highland Dancing.Picture: Beth Taylor

A total of 113 Highland dancers entered the competition this year, which overran until 6pm.

#293 and #295 perform the Sword Dance in the Highland Dancing.Picture: Beth Taylor
#293 and #295 perform the Sword Dance in the Highland Dancing.Picture: Beth Taylor
6000 Metres Cycle NSCU Championship.Picture: Beth Taylor
6000 Metres Cycle NSCU Championship.Picture: Beth Taylor

Mike called for more people to help with organising and running the events.

“The Forres Highland Games will have been running for a century in four year’s time,” he said. “They’re a local tradition and a great boost for the area’s tourism.

“Volunteers this year included service personnel from 39 Engineer Regiment. We really appreciate everyone’s input and would love for even more folk to help us!”

Games President Fred Davidson, Junior Chieftain Holly Innes and Chieftain of the Games Michael Munro.Picture: Beth Taylor
Games President Fred Davidson, Junior Chieftain Holly Innes and Chieftain of the Games Michael Munro.Picture: Beth Taylor

This year’s junior chieftain, Holly Innes, helped open the games then presented prizes and trophies for the various events.

She said: “Being junior chieftain isn’t something you get to do everyday! I enjoyed meeting lots of important people and congratulating the competitors and pipe bands.”

Zuzana Stasova competes in the weight over the bar event.Picture: Beth Taylor
Zuzana Stasova competes in the weight over the bar event.Picture: Beth Taylor

Originally from Slovakia, Zyzana Stasova from Udny near Ellon, competed in the heavy events - the first time women have been invited to do so at Forres Highland Games.

She said: “I’d never been to Forres before. It’s a nice area with a good field for the events - well spread out so we don’t end up throwing at each other!

“I started taking part in heavies events last June - I had friends who were doing them already. There are around 15 women and girls that take part in Scotland now.”

Juliet Ramsay successfully competes in the tossing of the caber.Picture: Beth Taylor
Juliet Ramsay successfully competes in the tossing of the caber.Picture: Beth Taylor

Jules Ramsay (16) from Dundee High School has been taking part in heavy events for four years.

She said: “I train twice-a-week: practicing throws; doing drills; and correcting my form by watching videos of my performances.

“I did pretty well today and there are good cash prizes here. I’ve been to Forres before - I took part in the Alva Games and the Forres Games in one day in 2022. There’s always something to watch, it’s a very good event.”

Massed Pipe Bands in the Games Arena.
Massed Pipe Bands in the Games Arena.

Forres Pipe Band Major, Mike Munro - honoured to be games chieftain for 2024 - is always impressed by the event.

“Forres is the best organised games,” he said. “The spectators can see everything that’s going on in the one arena.

Massed Pipe Bands perform in the Games Arena.Picture: Beth Taylor
Massed Pipe Bands perform in the Games Arena.Picture: Beth Taylor

“It’s very important for the band to be a part of it every year. It’s one of the highlights for us.

“I want to pay tribute to the games committee for their dedication and hard work. They make it a fantastic event.”

Greg Walker competes in the Scot Hammer North of Scotland Championship event.
Greg Walker competes in the Scot Hammer North of Scotland Championship event.

Graham Arnold brings his family up north every year for a few weeks in the summer.

He said: “We don’t get to as many games as my boys would like! We’ve been coming to the Forres Games for a few years. “There are lots of events to watch and they enjoy taking part with the locals.”

Holly Whittaker competes in the long jump.
Holly Whittaker competes in the long jump.

Ewan (13) came 1st in the 100m, 2nd in the 200m and 1st in the 400m - as well as 1st in the unique message bike race.

He said: “The bike race is a great event despite the basket not moving and the bike being so heavy so it’s quite difficult to control!”

Unfortunately younger brother Rohan came last, explaining: “I’m not really big enough yet for the bike … I struggle to get going!”

Sinclair Patience takes part in the shot put event.Picture: Beth Taylor
Sinclair Patience takes part in the shot put event.Picture: Beth Taylor

Moray Councillor Scott Lawrence (Forres, SNP) helped out on one of the many stalls dotted around the edge of the arena.

He said: “It was good to see such a big crowd. The visitors always comment on the town’s beauty.”

Calum Crawford leads the 400 metre race.Picture: Beth Taylor
Calum Crawford leads the 400 metre race.Picture: Beth Taylor

Compere Doug Cowie confirmed there were 10k runners from India, Pakistan and Austria, and the winner of the first messages bike race was from Holland.

The start of the visitors’ message bike race.
The start of the visitors’ message bike race.
Maria Maccrohon and Pepa Astolfi competed in the long jump.Picture: Beth Taylor
Maria Maccrohon and Pepa Astolfi competed in the long jump.Picture: Beth Taylor

Doctor Maria Maccrohon (28) and journalist Pepa Astolfi (28) from Seville, Spain attended with their families, during their holiday in Muir of Ord.

“We loved the look of the highland games we’d seen in the movies,” said Maria. “They are like a fairy tale and are very inspiring!”

“They are healthy and natural,” added Pepa. “And the participants get to show off to everyone!”


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