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Stirling CAB SupportersStirling Highland Games is backing Stirling’s Citizen’s Advice Bureau (Stirling CAB), an affiliate charity of the Stirling Marathon.

Games Organiser Matt McGrandles mentions, “We are delighted to be able to support Stirling CAB. We know how crucial raising funds through events for Third Sector organisations are and by supporting the charity we hope it will allow them to continue working with Stirling residents by providing free advice and services. We also wish all 40 runners the best of luck on Sunday 21st May!”

The Stirling Marathon is organised by The Great Run Company which has 6,500 participants making their way from Blairdrummond Safari Park to Doune, through Dunblane and Bridge of Allan and back to Stirling.

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Gary Maclean MasterChef The Professionals WinnerIn 2014 Stirling Highland Games made the decision to make sure its visitors had, as an enjoyable food and drink experience as the event itself. By adopting a tendering process, they were looking for food and drink producers that offered quality produce at a reasonable price. Following a review, the feedback from visitors was positive including a blogger who shared his thoughts on his highland games experience.

“The food options at these kind of events are very often dire. Overpriced, unhealthy and awful is to be expected far too often. The Stirling Games have excelled themselves though and the choice is actually pretty impressive. Angus beef burgers and even Asian influenced meat and veg dishes are on offer!”

Spurred on by the positive feedback the committee looked at expanding the food and drink offering. In 2015, funding was secured through the Year of Food & Drink which was the Scottish Government initiative led by VisitScotland, giving events an opportunity to showcase, celebrate and promote Scotland’s natural larder and quality produce to our people as well as our visitors. This allowed Stirling Highland Games to promote 6 Scottish producers and with feedback again positive they decided food and drink would play a key part in the event’s future sustainability. Fiona Richmond, Special Projects Manager, Scotland Food & Drink said:

“Scotland Food & Drink is delighted to be once again working with Stirling Highland Games. The food and drink sector is one of Scotland’s fastest growing and consumers are demanding more choice and more local produce to be available at events. Over the last few years, the Games have worked hard to reflect this demand and we are delighted to support them in the creation of the Stirling Foodie Fest area.”

Since 2014 the Games Committee have increased the food and drink presence year on year with also support in 2016 from EventScotland. This year, Stirling Foodie Fest will be a fully marqueed area for visitors to relax, wander, sample, purchase and enjoy the producer’s offerings. As part of this new feature, Stirling Foodie Fest warmly welcomes our celebrity chef of the day Gary Maclean, the 2016 MasterChef Professional Champion. He beat 47 other professional chefs over seven weeks of cooking and was named winner in December 2016 by Marcus Wareing, Monica Galetti and Gregg Wallace. Gary commented:

“I am really excited to be part of the inaugural Stirling Foodie Fest. I think having a quality food and drink offering as part of the main event will attract a massive following of foodies from through the UK. Stirling’s location is so central and visitors will be able to get a hands-on experience with some of Scotland’s award winning producers.”

To add to the Stirling Foodie Fest experience Gary is also scheduled to do a Q & A during the day, allowing all foodie fans in attendance a great opportunity to speak with him. There will be up to 25 Scotland food and drink producers on site showcasing including the likes of McQueen Craft Gin, The Wee Fudge Co, FizzBuz Prosecco, All That’s Delicious, Harviestoun Craft Beer and All Things Nice.

If you are a Scottish producer and wish to be part of this year’s Stirling Foodie Fest then opportunities are available to book your traders space. You can apply online by visiting the Stirling Highland Games web site at www.stirlinghighlandgames.com or emailing hello@stirlinghighlandgames.com and request an application form.

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Kari Carswell

Pic by David Potter

Thousands of visitors are expected to attend the 147th Stirling Highland Games on Saturday 19th August this year.

The City’s annual games, which take place at Stirling Sports Village, behind Forthbank Stadium are always popular, offering visitors a great mix of traditional events and new attractions for all the family to enjoy.

This year, Games Organiser Matt McGrandles is delighted to announce the 2017 Games Chieftain is Scotland Cricketer, Kari Carswell. “My committee and I really enjoy this part of the build-up to the highland games. Selecting one of Stirling’s famous sons or daughters to be Chieftain is fascinating. There are so many worthwhile individuals to choose from however I am happy that Kari will be joining our Chieftain family.”

Kari added, “It came as a bit of a shock to be nominated for the role of Chieftain at the Stirling Highland Games, but I’m absolutely thrilled to accept the role and I can’t wait to be back in Stirling on the 19th of August.  Stirling is a place I’ve obviously got a close association to, having been born there and in my early years not living too far from it.  I’m hoping the sun shines and lots of people turn out to support what will no doubt be a fantastic event.”

Kari started playing cricket at the age of 12 at Stirling County Cricket Club under the expert eye of Raymond Bond and quickly fell in love with the game. She trialled for England U17’s in 1999 and represented them in a tri-series against Holland before committing to play for Scotland.

She made her debut for Scotland as a 17-year-old against Northumberland in 2000 and to date has represented Scotland on 148 occasions and captained for 54 of those matches.  She also had the privilege of being a player/coach for the senior women’s team from November 2010 – December 2015, taking the squad to within one game of qualifying for our first ever World Cup.

Kari is still playing, all be it she has taken on a new challenge as a cricket officer in New Zealand but she is hoping to be selected to go to Sri Lanka in February 2017 to play in the 50 over Global Qualifying event. If the team qualifies they will be playing in the 50 over world cup in England in July 2017. 

Discounted tickets can be purchased online via the Stirling Highland Games website or on the gate on the day, when payment must be made by cash.  Entry costs £8 for adults, £4 for children 5 years to 15 years old and £5 for Students/OAPs. Children under five years old enter for free with car parking limited next to the site but Stirling park and rides are close by.

To view a full timetable of What’s On or to purchase tickets online, please visit www.stirlinghighlandgames.com  

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Scotland’s highland games have been given a major boost with the announcement that His Royal Highness Prince Charles, The Duke of Rothesay has agreed to become the patron of the sports governing body, the Scottish Highland Games Association (SHGA).

 

The announcement comes as the SHGA marks its 70th anniversary and Scotland celebrates the year of history, heritage and archaeology.  Founded in 1947 as the Scottish Games Association to standardise competition rules and ensure judging consistency, the SHGA works to promote and preserve highland games nationally and internationally. 

 

The Duke of Rothesay will become the association’s first ever Royal Patron.  It is hoped that his Patronage will help to further raise the profile of the iconic events, leading to greater public participation and engagement, helping safeguard the future of highland games.

 

With a history stretching back centuries, highland games remain important outdoor events throughout Scotland, generating an estimated £25million for the country’s economy each year.  Games take place every weekend from mid-May until mid-September and on many weekdays during July and August.

 

Featuring piping, highland dancing, cycling, tug o’ war, and light and heavy athletics – including tossing the caber and hammer throws – highland games are a unique blend of Scottish music, dance, sport, culture and community.  Many highland games also feature trade stands, helping support small local businesses and charities by providing a platform for them to showcase their products and services, further emphasising their role in communities.

 

The SHGA oversees 61 of the 80 highland games that take place in Scotland annually.  Combined, these games attract over 150,000 visitors, including thousands from overseas who can claim Scottish ancestry.  Alongside hundreds of pipers and dancers, around 500 athletes compete in light and heavy athletics events, and running and cycling races at SHGA member events throughout the games season.

 

An enthusiastic supporter of highland games, The Duke of Rothesay has been a regular visitor to the Braemar Highland Gathering since first attending in 1955.  He is also the chieftain of the Mey Highland Games, a role he took on following the death of his grandmother, the Queen Mother, and in recent years has attended the Ballater Highland Games.

 

The Duke’s support of the SHGA will continue the Royal family’s long association with Scotland’s highland games.  Queen Victoria first visited the Braemar Highland Gathering in 1848, her attendance in subsequent years helping to popularise the events throughout Scotland.  Her Majesty The Queen maintains this tradition, taking a keen interest in proceedings.

 

As the governing body of Scottish highland games, the SHGA sets competition rules and administers a series of regional leagues and national and international highland games championships.  It also runs a random drug testing programme for athletes in conjunction with UK Anti-Doping, Britain’s national anti-doping agency.  The aim is to create an environment where athletes know they can compete in the true spirit of sport.

 

Charlie Murray, President of the Scottish Highland Games Association, said: “It is an honour and a privilege that His Royal Highness The Duke of Rothesay has agreed to become the first royal patron of the Scottish Highland Games Association.  This is a milestone for the association as we mark our 70th anniversary.

 

“We have all witnessed The Duke’s delight at watching events at highland games and the close attention he pays to the competitions.  The Duke is a staunch advocate of promoting and protecting the country’s traditions and heritage, and supporting its rural economies.  His patronage will help the SHGA to enhance the profile of highland games, which remain an important part of Scotland’s fabric and story.  Their status and characteristics help to attract thousands of visitors to Scotland each year.

 

“Each games has its own unique, vibrant atmosphere.  Regardless of their size or location, all bring their local communities together and provide a positive contribution to them.  Encouraging greater participation in highland games, whether as organisers, spectators or competitors, is important for the future of individual games, the communities in which they are held and indeed Scotland.”

 

The Scottish Highland Games Association (SHGA) is the sports governing body of traditional highland games in Scotland and represents more than 60 member events across the country.  Established in 1947 as the Scottish Games Association, it aims to further the cause of highland games.  The organisation administers the national and international highland games championships and runs a series of regional leagues throughout the highland games season that its members’ events are part of.  Recognised by the UK and Scottish governments, the SHGA works at a strategic level on behalf of its members and also provides drug testing facilities, legal support and basic insurance cover to them. Reflecting the internationalisation of highland games, the association also has an associate member category for overseas events and other organisations linked to Scottish highland games.  For more information and a full list of member events, please visit Scottish Highland Games Association.

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community matters waitroseThis year Stirling Highland Games applied to the Waitrose Stirling community matters fund in the hope we could secure part of the £1000 monthly fund to aid in the purchase of new cabers for our Heavyweights event.

Matt McGrandles, Games Organiser was delighted to receive a cheque for £300 to go towards the purchase of new cabers. He said, ‘we unfortunatly lost both our cabers at last years event so had to look at replacing them as without them we dont have a tossing the caber event. I want to offer my thanks to the local people of Stirling who voted for us in July and also to the Community Matters team at Waitrose Stirling for this opportunity.’

Tossing the Caber is one of the most anticipated events at any highland games and always attracts a large crowd. This year Stirling Highland Games Heavyweights competitors included national Champions who competed for the Inaugrual Specsavers Cup.

Stirling Highland Games 2017 is on Saturday 19th August.

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Four events in Stirlingshire are among 21 across the country which are receiving backing from the latest round of awards from the EventScotland National Funding Programme, as part of VisitScotland’s work to deliver the national events strategy Scotland the Perfect Stage.

In total, £47,600 is being awarded to Stirling Highland Games (20 August), Balmaha’s Braw Weekend (1 & 2 October), Cake Fest Scotland (11 September at Cowane’s Hospital, Stirling) and Stirling Fringe Festival presents The Shindig! (9 – 11 September at Stirling Old Town Jail).

Stirling Highland Games is one of Stirling’s leading cultural sporting events, attracting visitors from around the world to enjoy a full programme of traditional Highland games competitions, listen to piping performances, enjoy sampling some of Scotland’s award winning food and drink produce, shop for Scottish gifts at the Traders Village and have a go at mini highland games within the Activities Challenge area.

Balmaha’s Braw Weekend was held for the first time last year. Staged by The Oak Tree Inn, this year’s event will feature two days of live music and family entertainment and food and drink from some of Scotland’s leading suppliers.

Following the success of the 2015 Cake Fest Edinburgh in 2015, Cowane’s Hospital becomes the venue for Cake Fest Scotland as part of the Festival of Architecture, one of the key events of the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016. 100 teams of budding architects will oversee the creation by bakers (professional and non-professional, of all ages) of a spectacular 100 square metre, three-dimensional, fully edible map of Scotland featuring 100 of the country’s iconic buildings.

Stirling Fringe Festival’s The Shindig!  is a three day arts extravaganza which will feature live music, street performances, comedy, storytelling, art, cinema, cabaret and much more across three stages. The Old Town Jail, which is the venue, will also feature a beer garden, food zone and impromptu performances.

The four Stirlingshire events and other 17 across 13 of Scotland’s local authority areas are receiving a combined total of £232,700 awarded from Round 32 of the National Funding Programme.

The National Funding Programme – which is administered by EventScotland, a team within VisitScotland’s Events Directorate – was established to enable the strategic development of events taking place outwith Edinburgh and Glasgow, with the aim of driving domestic tourism and increasing economic impact for local communities throughout Scotland.  Thanks to the funding, and in keeping with the objectives of the National Funding Programme, the events will now be in a position to further develop by extending and enhancing their programmes in order to increase attendance figures and improve the overall spectator / visitor experience.

Matt McGrandles, Games Organiser of Stirling Highland Games said: Stirling Highland Games is an extremely popular highlight of the annual events calendar – not only here in Stirlingshire but right across Scotland. It’s an event for all the family, with lots of outstanding entertainment. We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded this EventScotland funding as it will help us ensure that this year’s Games is our biggest and best yet – consolidating our aim to become widely recognised as one of Scotland’s top cultural sporting annual events.”

Liz Buchanan MBE, VisitScotland Regional Partnerships Director, said: “I’m delighted that these four excellent events in Stirlingshire have been selected as funding recipients in the latest round of EventScotland’s National Funding Programme.  I’m sure that the financial boost combined with the fantastic programmes each has planned will ensure they are a superb success.

“These funding awards for regional events provide invaluable support by helping them create an even more attractive proposition to attract increased attendance – not only from their local areas but also from much further afield. That promotes the venues as excellent visitor destinations and contributes greatly to the region’s economy – which is hugely important.”

The complete array of diverse events receiving funding through EventScotland National Funding Programme Round 32 is as follows:

  • Powerboat P1 Scottish Grand Prix of the Sea, The Esplanade, Greenock : 18 & 19 June
  • Stirling Highland Games, Stirling : 20 August
  • Groove Loch Ness, Clune Farm, Dores, Inverness: 20 August
  • Electric Fields Festival, Drumlanrig Castle Estate, Dumfries & Galloway : 26 & 27 August
  • Thunder In The Glens, Aviemore and The Cairngorms : 26 – 29 August
  • The Scottish International Airshow, Ayr : 2 & 3 September
  • The Heb – Race On the Edge, Uist Island chain, The Hebrides : 3 & 4 September
  • Bo’ness Speed Hillclimb, Kinneil Estate, Bo’ness : 3 & 4 September
  • Stirling Fringe Festival presents The Shindig!, The Old Town Jail, Stirling : 9 – 11 September
  • Commando Spirit – Survive the Yomp, Achnacarry, Spean Bridge : 10 & 11 September
  • Super Touring Car Championship, Knockhill, Fife : 10 & 11 September
  • Cake Fest Scotland, Cowane’s Hospital, Stirling : 11 September
  • Glencoe Skyline, Glencoe Mountain : 16 – 18 September
  • The 2016 Camanachd Cup Final, Fort William : 17 September
  • Highland Military Tattoo, Fort George, Inverness : 17 & 18 September
  • Etape Royale & Royal Deeside Cycling Festival, Ballater, Royal Deeside : 17 & 18 September TBC
  • True North, Aberdeen : 23 – 25 September
  • Dragon Matrix, Monikie Country Park, Broughty Ferry, Dundee : 5 – 31 October
  • Balmaha’s Braw Weekend, Balmaha, Loch Lomond : 1 & 2 October
  • Scotland’s Boat Show, Kip Marina, Inverkip : 14 – 16 October
  • 33rd European Reversible Ploughing Championships, Saltcoats, Gullane : 19 & 20 October and

54th Scottish Ploughing Championships West Fenton, East Berwick : 22 & 23 October

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Sean, Eilidh, Craig and Callum getting to grips with the new cabers they will be filming on Saturday 20th August.

Sean, Eilidh, Craig and Callum getting to grips with the new cabers they will be filming on Saturday 20th August.

Stirling Highland Games held its scheduling meeting today with the young people who will play their part in helping stream live coverage of the Highland Games around the world on Saturday 20th August.

Games Organiser Matt McGrandles explained, ‘I like my highland games to be different, not only in terms of what we are offering over and above the traditional highland games competitions and traders villages but also how we can reach beyond the local and national borders of the UK. There is much interest from around the UK and overseas and by streaming our event live on the 20th we are able to promote not only the highland games but also Stirling and Scotland as a destination to visit in 2017.’

Young people from the area were invited into the scheduling meeting today to better understand their role in the lead up to the event as well as have a go with the Canon XF105 cameras. Part of the digital expereience is to gather footage of the area which can then be used as promotional footage during the live stream.

Matt went on to say, ‘Without the amazing support from Stirling Council and Enterprise Rent-a-Car we would not be in this privaleged postion to work with young people and showcase Stirling and the highland games.’

If any other young person aged 16+ is interested to be part of this then please email Rebeka on hello@stirlinghighlandgames.com for more details.

 

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Marco and Craig from Active Stirling showing The Specsavers Cup and The Provost Cup.

Marco and Craig from Active Stirling showing The Specsavers Cup and The Provost Cup.

Stirling Highland Games has received a welcome boost from Specsavers in Stirling and Stirling Council by providing support in 2 events with presentation Cups.

The Specsavers Cup is for the Champion of Tossing the caber event, a firm favourite amongst both competitors and visitors alike. Susanne Akil, Store Director at Specsavers Stirling, says: ‘The Stirling Highland Games is a wonderful event for the whole community, and Specsavers is absolutely delighted to provide our support again. This year, we are thrilled to be able to sponsor the caber toss event. The event is a great family day out for thousands of people from across the whole of Scotland, so we are honoured to be able to play a part in making it happen.’

The Provost Cup is for the Champion of the 90m sprint, a hugely competative event with several heats having to take place so as the Track Convenors can get down to the last 8 fastest participants. Its one to watch from the track side to see whether we have a Usian Bolt in the making.

Both Cups will be presented to the winners on the Podium during the day in the centre of the Games Field.

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specsavers selfie competitionSpecsavers Stirling along with The Stirling Observer are running a selfie competition with readers been given the chance to win two tickets to the event on August 20th plus two pairs of designer sunglasses worth up to £250 are up for grabs.

Specsavers in Stirling are one of the highland games Community Partners and Store Director, Susanne Akil said ‘The Stirling Highland Games is a wonderful event for the whole community we are absolutely delighted to be involved. This event is a great family day out for thousands of people from across the whole of Scotland so we are honoured to be able to play a part in making it happen.”

If you want a chance to win this great prize then send your summer selfies to the Stirling Observer. You can even drop by the Specsavers Stirling store in Murray Place and have a shot of their selfie board!

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stirling young carers groupStirling Highland Games event organiser, Matt McGrandles announces that along with their annual commitment to support Forth Valley Social Enterprises CIC, a local training provider for young people, they are also looking to provide a donation to local charity, Stirling Young Carers.

“Being part of the community we operate within is important to me,” Matt explained. “So, as well as our ongoing links with Forth Valley Social Enterprises CIC I was keen to see if we could support another local Third Sector organisation. There are many good causes within the area however I felt that by linking in with our Host Ambassador, The Provost of Stirling’s chosen charity we could add some awareness for the chosen organisation.”

Provost Robbins added, “Stirling Young Carers are our hidden heroes. Day in, day out for year after year they quietly and compassionately care for their relatives, often in challenging circumstances. Their efforts not only ensure the safety and well-being of their loved ones, they also save the state billions of pounds every year. I am delighted that the Stirling Highland Games team have provided this platform which will raise awareness of their efforts. ”

Unlike many other highland games in Scotland who choose to provide a fairground attraction for younger visitors, Stirling will be unique in looking to provide an Activity Challenge area.  Along with Active Stirling, their Principle Partner of the activity challenge area, any donations collected on the day will be presented to the Stirling Young Carers charity.

Matt said, “We are just trying to provide something different for our younger audience. Whilst mum and dad are enjoying their delicious handmade wrap or pulled pork sandwich the kids can take on one of the challenges and have a go. If parents wish to leave a donation then it will be up to them. I think Stirling Young Carers provide a great service and I hope we can raise some funds for them on the 20th August.”

Charlene O’Neill, Young Carers Service Manager, said: “We are delighted that Stirling Highland Games has chosen to support Stirling Young Carers Service at this year’s Highland Games. It is reported that one in ten young people have caring responsibilities in Scotland so the support from the event will ensure that we are recognised locally. It will also help to make a huge difference in raising the profile and increasing the identification of ‘hidden young carers’ in Stirling.”

You may of course find yourself stuck in the Activity Challenge area for a while as some of the activities planned include a mini highland games, test your passing skills with Glasgow Warriors and Rugby Tots, try for a hole in one on the putting green, ride Recyke-a-Bike’s mobile trail or test your speed through the Army’s assault course.

Chief Executive, Andrew Bain added, “Active Stirling is delighted to support this aspect of Stirling Highland Games. We hope the attraction will prove a huge hit with visiting families and are sure that there will be something to entertain everyone. It’s just another great reason for people to come and be part of Stirling Highland Games.”

This year Stirling Highland Games is on Saturday 20th August with gates opening from 10:30. Tickets can be purchased on line in advance or at the gates on the day.

Photo Details: Andrew Bain, Chief Executive of Active Stirling :: Zoe Taylor, YC Officer  :: Colleen McAteer, YC Officer :: Charlene O’Neill, Young Carers Service Manager at Stirling Carers :: Mike Robbins, Provost of Stirling :: Molly Feinmann, YC Officer  :: Matt McGrandles, Games Organiser at Stirling Highland Games.

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