As Patron of The Scottish Highland Games Association and someone who has had the joy of attending Highland Games and Gatherings since my childhood, it is incredibly sad and frustrating to hear that due to the current health pandemic most, if not all, Games will be cancelled this Summer.

I have no doubt that the decision to cancel this season’s Games will have been extremely painful for the officials, organisers and volunteers.  However, the loyalty, strength and determination that lies at the very heart of our Games will, I am sure, see us through to better times ahead.

In so many ways, Highland Games bring out the very best in our communities and in countless aspects of our lives.  Each Games, big or small, have their own unique qualities and traditions, making them individually special to their own local community and area of the country.  This wonderful community spirit has always been a vital part of the Games tradition, with its sense of gathering and being part of a culture which, for so many of our Games and families has lasted for generations.  Even the thought of missing all this for a year is, indeed, hard to bear...

Ever since I was a child, I have attended the annual Braemar Games or, latterly, the Mey Games in the far North Highlands in the late Summer.  I am always greatly heartened to see the marvellous sportsmanship and competition that is displayed.  It all mingles perfectly, with the range of ages and abilities, from the sheer strength of tossing the caber to the smiles and laughter of children running in the sack race!  However, for the many competitors who work and train tirelessly for the season, be they heavy-weights, Tug O War teams, Highland Dancers, Pipers or local athletes, there will indeed be great disappointment at this news.  There is no doubt that aspiring to a new Games season and the prospect of meeting old and new friends alike will leave a large part of the Summer bereft of that experience.  But we must do our utmost in this most difficult of times to keep the Games alive in our hearts and spirits...

A day out at any of our Highland Games can be the experience of a lifetime to the many thousands of visitors from all over the world.  These events celebrate so much of Scotland’s proud culture and rich heritage and their absence over the year ahead will undoubtedly impact many lives, communities and economies all over Scotland.  Nevertheless, God willing, the charm, character and history of Highland Games, and all those involved, will, I am sure, be brought back to life with perfect style in the years ahead.

So, in these days, where it is vital for us all to remain safe, let us look forward to happier times when, once again the pipes can be tuned, the cabers rolled out, the kilts strapped on and we can head out once more to enjoy all that we love and share at our uniquely special Highland Games.