Am Bratach No. 227
2010 Assynt Games report
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At mid-day on Friday the 13th August, Neil Gudgeon, Assynt
Games Chieftain for 2010, sailed into Lochinver Harbout aboard
the Chieftains barge, this year the Lochinver Lifeboat,
RNLB Julian and Margaret Leonard. Neil had been an RNLI
volunteer for thirty years, twenty one of those as the coxswain
of the lifeboat. So it was absolutely fitting that his
barge for the Assynt Games 2010 was the Lochinver lifeboat, skippered
by its present coxswain David MacAskill. Neil could not
resist taking the helm of the lifeboat, so he took the helm at
the breakwater, circled the harbour and brought the lifeboat
into the harbour.
Here, he and his party of past chiefs and invited guests were
piped ashore by his pipers, the magnificently attired Charlie
Cowan and his son Jack from Strathy. Charlies family
at one time owned Drumbeg Hotel so there was also an Assynt connection.
Once ashore, Neil and his party were led from the harbour to
the Games field by the Ullapool Junior Pipe Band. The Band made
a rousing opening to the Games as they paraded around the field
before Neil, as chieftain, officially declared the Games open.
The Pipe Band played impressively on the field several times
during the afternoon.
Since the weather for last years Games was the worst anyone
can remember there was great fear that 2010 would be a repeat
performance. So far the summer has been virtually a non-summer
but Friday stayed dry for the Games to our great relief. We did
not have a blazing sun. However, with a slight breeze,
neither did we have the dreaded midgies. Due to heavy rain
during the week some of the jumps did not take place because
the ground was too wet for safety.
The number of spectators was good with a mix of visitors and
locals. It seemed that there were not as many foreign visitors
as usual and there were certainly not as many foreign competitors
as in some years. Could this be due to the poor summer so far?
There was a good entry for the Heavy events although only one
local who now competes in the Open events. John Hugh Macleod
broke two local records which he himself had made last year.
In the Light Weight for Distance, he made a new record of 66
2 and in the Heavy Weight for Distance306.
This year there was only one heavy from abroad, Pat Hellier from
New Zealand . At recent Games we have had heavies from
California and Australia . But we were delighted to have
back, not having been last year, Bruce Aitken from Auchenblae.
Bruce holds the world record for Throwing the Light Hammer. On
Friday he broke his own world record creating a new world record
of 151 2. He had stiff competition over the
heavy events. Indeed Bruce Robb of Rosyth beat him by half a
mark to win the Macintyre cup.
Last year was so wet that the Highland Dancing had to take place
in the Hall. This was a great disappointment because the Games
then lack colour and music. So it was a delight to see
the Dancing competitions this year. A blaze of colour on
the field. Ending in the presentation by Neil, the Chieftain,
of Dancing Cups and medals on the Dancing platform out on the
field. We no longer have a local dancing school so no local
competitors. How nice to see the young girls from all over Scotland
. But sadly this year no dancers from Canada or USA as
usual. The pound and the dollar are maybe to blame.
This years judge was Clare Bryce and her mother Linda.
They ran a very good competition. We look forward to their help
next year too. The piper for the dancing was Shona Laidlaw
We had the added delight of dancing demonstrations by a troupe
of Ullapool girls showing creative dance. This was a contrast
to the traditional Highland Dancing and added greatly to the
spectacle of the Games.
There was a good entry for the field and track events.
It was good to see youngsters who did not know each other becoming
partners for the 3-legged race, in one instance an Italian boy
with a boy from Edinburgh . The younger children entertained
the crowd with their hilarious antics during the sack and 3 legged
The Hill race had a very good entry although the runners had
to be warned that the ground might be very slippy due to the
rain during the week. First home completed the course in
8 minutes, which was a superb time given the very difficult muddy
In the High Jump jumpers soared to impressive heights as the
bar was raised to 178cm.
Uninhibited ladies of various ages flocked from the crowd to
compete in the egg and spoon and 60 metres dash races.
The Flower, Produce and Craft Tent was well supported once again
which resulted in an excellent display for the' visitors to enjoy
and then a chance to buy some of the produce at the end of the
Show. Despite the poor weather this summer the entries for Veg.
and Flowers were very good and best of all both the Baking Section
and Children's section had a lot more entrants than last year.
So all the doom and gloom beforehand about produce being bashed
to bits by rain and wind did not stop a very good entry.
The display of the entries was delightfully colourful and much
enjoyed by the visitors. Some of the models made from vegetables
were very amusing. There were 3 new trophies for Craft and Produce
this year. Andrew Mackenzie, working in Edinburgh but from
Clashmore, donated two cups for the children in memory of two
friends who had been there when he made miniature gardens and
painted pebbles as a child for the Assynt Games, Angus Maclean
and Mick Holland-Day. Kenny Mackenzie, retired headteacher of
Lochinver School , donated a shield for the best school entry,
won this year by Stoer school.
Chieftain Neil presented the
Craft and Produce cups to the winners in the tent just before
the auction which raised a good sum for the Games.
It is always wonderful to hear the skirl of the pips in the open
air. And we were lucky with that this year again. Because the
world Pipe Band championships are taking place in Glasgow at
the time some of the senior pipers are not free to come to Assynt.
In the fly casting, local Scott Taylor won all the cups.
I hope that next year young Kenneth Morrison will have
competition from other young anglers.
And so a very full and colourful Games came to an end with the
presentation of the prizes for the raffle. A good Games
was had by all without any rain! We now look forward to
next year on the second Friday in August for our 2011 Games.
But for the young and strong the day was not yet over
still the Games Night Dance.which was run this year by
volunteers and was in aid of the newly formed Community Care
Assynt, who are taking over the running of the Assynt Centre
in Lochinver from 1st September.
Jess Thomas, Angie Gordon and Tina Roney, ably assisted by a
group of volunteers, organised and ran the Dance which was hugely
successful and was enjoyed by everyone. The Band, called Rant,
were from Inverness , and they were excellent, playing a large
assortment of covers. Apparently there are already requests from
others about booking them for other events here which is great.
At the moment there is no final figure as there are still bills
to be paid, but the organisers are confident that there will
be a substantial final figure to be donated to the Assynt Centre.
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