2016 Margaret MacRae
The Durness Highland Gathering Association are members of the Scottish Games Association and registered to accept both amateurs and professionals. 33 trophies are competed for from competitors at all levels. Piping, dancing, athletics, heavy events and novelty games for all ages are included. Revived in 1970, after a break of approximately ten years, only being cancelled once in 1983 due to severe weather conditions, the Games are a highlight of the year and a date not to be missed on the local calendar. The 2016 games will be held on Friday 29 July.
The committee meets in January when a chieftain is selected. This year after involvement with the Games since the revival the tribute has been bestowed on Margaret MacRae. Meg, since 1970 when the Durness games were rejuvenated, has missed only one; volunteering in some capacity, catering, clerking and pay clerk. Meg has been actively supportive in many other community groups and activities. Meg has been a teacher at Durness Primary School since 1975, teaching Durness children for 34 years, with seven years taken off to have her two sons Ewan and Neil. Meg was brought up in Loth and attended Loth primary school, Brora and Golspie secondary schools. In 1968 the family returned to Durness family croft where Meg can trace her ancestors back to 1841.
On leaving school Meg attended teacher training in Aberdeen with a very short teaching spell at Bonar Bridge before taking up a post at Durness. Meg relaxes with a keen interest in gardening recently acquiring a poly tunnel. Married to Kenny who was 2014 chieftain they have 2 grandchildren Charlie and Magnus.
The role of Chieftain, at most gatherings nowadays, is an honorary one to encourage participation, welcome competitors and visitors. On the day the Chieftain is received with ceremony and escorted with the music of the bagpipes. They are responsible for officially opening the event and presentation of the trophies. The chieftain is presented with a memento of the day a cranoch, by the chairperson of the committee and hopefully going away feeling honoured to have been part of a successful Durness Highland Gathering.
Secretary Mark manning affirmed “We are delighted Meg has agreed to be 2106 chieftain. Meg has played a quiet with unwavering support for many positive actions in Durness involving the school and children whenever appropriate opportunities arise. At last year's Games we had, for the first time, a display of vintage vehicles and equipment, including a lap of the track by the vehicles. We're looking forward to an even larger vintage section this year. In the evening we have the excellent Celtic rock band Rhythm 'n' Reel playing at the Games dance."
The Durness Highland Gathering is one of the most spectacular events held in this North West corner of Scotland only possible because of the hard working band of voluntary assistance.
The day has become a recognised local holiday in most sections of the community and the local preparations are all brought to fruition. The games committee now hope for a fine day to allow all the athletes, dancers and musicians to take part and the visitors to see this area in full traditional style.