1999 Mr. A Robertson, Durness
In the introduction from Games Chairperson Iris Mackay she welcomed everyone to the last Durness Highland Gathering of this millennium with plans to continue well into the next century. On the 3rd. September 1969 a meeting was held in Durness village hall to revive the games after an absence of about 14 years. Three members of the committee elected that evening still remain as dedicated to success of the occasion as they were then. Hector Sutherland, Danny Mackay and Billy Morrison, she thanked them for their long time support and all the other committee members and assistants for their help before introducing this years Chieftain Angus Robertson.
Chieftain Robertson has a long-standing participation in sport but manly of a different style than was seen at the Durness Games. He has played first class rugby for Bedford and the Navy and rowed at Henley until 1960 when he was part of a team trying to make the 1960 Olympics. Rowing has latterly been his main interest with a deep involvement in organising the Henley Royal Regatta. He has been on the committee of management for the regatta for 21 years and spends a month of the year organising other regattas in South Africa. He was a managing director of an engineering company in that country before moving to be based in Dorset. He now does consultant work as a tax commissioner on a part time basis. Angus moved to Durness in 1993, and was proud and honoured to be asked to take the role of Chieftain. Attired in Hunting Robertson highland dress he was genuine in his praise for the warmth and kindness of the remarkable people of Durness. He reiterated the chairperson's remarks that the amount of work behind the scenes to accomplish a successful event is only achieved through a commitment of hard work.
At least two records were broken at this years games. Ian Ross from Dornoch in the light hammer confined beat the ground record raising the length from 90ft to 91ft 6 ins. and in the long jump a new record set by Willie Stark from Aberdeen now stands at 20ft 8 ins. Despite the poor tourist season so far the numbers of visitors at the gate were up and the crowd remained throughout the afternoon enjoying the full programme of events. Compare Graham Bruce giving a running commentary on the obscure origin of some of the events.
Throughout the afternoon the Sutherland Schools Pipe band paraded and played in the games' field. Many compliments and acclaim regarding the professionalism of this group of young people was made adding to a highly successful, homely and friendly Durness Highland Gathering. The main difference between Durness games and others is that the events are open all commers. It�s been like a New Year in the middle of the year was a heartfelt comment about Durness this week.
The last link with the Northwest and the Sutherland School�s Pipe band was celebrated with a presentation of a tankard from pipe band secretary Alison Fraser to Duncan Anderson at the Durness Highland Gathering. Since 1994 when the Kinlochbervie High School was opened children have been becoming less involved with the east coast based pipe band. Duncan Anderson age 17, pipe mayor for 3 years is leaving the band after six years. He is the last in a long line from Durness of accomplished musicians to have participated in the highly acclaimed band. Duncan has played at countless venues, visited foreign parts in three major tours including France, America and Canada, and America. The Anderson Family has had 18 years in total connection with the band. Older sisters Elspeth, also pipe major, and Rebecca drum major. Duncan is a popular local boy with a keen interest in sport; his hobbies are football, fishing, rugby and piping. He is unsure of his immediate destination but it is either to study Marine Engineering at Glasgow University or Mechanical Engineering at Edinburgh University. Wherever he ends he plans to continue playing the bagpipes. He is wished every success and best wishes for the future.
Louise Stevenson and Morag Mackay sixth year pupils from Golspie High were given their parting presentation from pipe band Chairperson Catherine Macleod.
Durness was mild, warm and shrouded in a light mist but gave perfect conditions for the competitors. Joining the heavy weight events were two Norwegian contestants. Although good in their field they were unable to beat the local contingent of brothers Alistair and Murray Gunn. In the tossing the caber the Murray brothers were first equal with the caber half a minute from the twelve o'clock, displaying some of the best throwing seen. The high standard of dancing and piping was maintained and the field, track, novelty and children's events attracted a large number of competitors.
After a little doubt about the conditions being suitable for the hill race, and a check made that all the markers and signs would be clearly visible this event went a head. The winner, Alexander Munro at 17 years from Kinlochbervie, is the youngest ever winner coming home in 25 minutes. Alexander has run in an international cross-country in primary school and his ex gym mistress believes that if the facilities were available he has great potential.
The evening dance in the village hall was with Febus where the party continued into the wee small hours.