Forty years after the Strathmore Highland Games first came into being, another brilliant showcase was held at Glamis Castle on Sunday.
And the chieftain of the event was, aptly enough, one of the original committee members when the Games were first billed as Forfar’s and held in the town.
The Earl of Strathmore was unable to attend this year so Alex Webster (80), of Forfar, was invited by the latest committee to step into the chieftain’s role, with his wife Ethel presenting the prizes.
Committee member Lorna Cochrane – who is also the couple’s grand-daughter – said: “Grandad is a very humble man but he was really proud to be asked and they both loved every minute of it.”
Alex and Ethel were, however, not the only celebrity couple who attended the annual extravaganza in the beautiful setting of Glamis’ grounds.
Also taking in the sights and sounds of the day were actors Larry Lamb and Maureen Lipman, who interviewed some of the competitors and visitors for a new Channel Four series which will be screened later this year.
“It really added that extra bit of buzz with folk asking if it really was the guy from Eastenders,” laughed Lorna. “Larry and Maureen were lovely to all the visitors and took the time to speak to people and have their photos taken.
“We had Ade Edmondson a couple of years ago so the event is quickly becoming a celebrity venue! It will be fantastic publicity for our games when the show is screened later in the year.”
An American film crew were also spotted in the grounds, soaking up the Scottish fun and games which included traditional heavyweight events such as tossing the caber and hammer throwing, as well as Highland dancing, piping contests and the fiercely fought British Tug-O-War Championship.
Lorna said: “The largest crowd was for the tug-of-war event – it’s always a crowd pleaser. And the international visitors love watching the caber event; it always gets one of the biggest roars from the crowd. It’s like panto with them oohing and aahing! And finishing off with the massed pipe bands never fails to bring a smile to faces.”
And there were plenty of those, with around 2000 visitors packing into the games from all over the world.
“I was on the gate for a little while so I know we had visitors from as afield as Brazil, Australia, America, Canada, Holland and Denmark,” said Lorna.
“The numbers were definitely up on last year – we estimate that more than 2000 people attended.
“And the games ran like clockwork; even the sun came out for us. It was an absolutely fantastic day; one of the best games I can remember.”
This year, committee members staged a Highland Games event for the schools on Friday afternoon which was a huge success and they hope to build on that next year.
Lorna said: “There were 175 pupils from primary schools throughout Angus taking part in the mini-games event.
“There’s only two Highland Games events in our area so the idea is to get the youngsters interested now as some of them may compete in the future.
“It was a fantastic success and we will be staging it again next year in the hope that it becomes an annual event. How we better it for next year is our biggest problem!”
Pulling off the games is no easy feat every year and there are, of course, countless people to thank.
Lorna added: “Thanks go to Glamis Castle, Strathmore Vintage Vehicle Club for a great show but also for lending a hand, our hard-working committee, all the local businesses and sponsors who help us every year, the extra volunteers and helpers who lend a hand on the day, the judges and officials and, of course, everyone who turned up to support us.”
The committee will now start planning the 2016 games with one aim – making sure next year’s event is every bit as good, if not better, than the 2015 event. We wish them every success.
Freelance photographer Ian Mutch was on hand to capture all the action for us and his pictures are featured in our slideshow.