top of page

2007 Willie Morrison

The Highland Gathering committee have announced that Willie Morrison has accepted the invitation to the chieftain at the 2007 Highland Gathering, the Durness Games. 

Willie born in Sangomore, three houses south of where John Lennon holidayed. The family moved to the home at Sangobeg shortly after his grandfather died when Willie was still a baby. Willie has recently retired after 40 years in journalism. Last year he received the prestigious Barron Trophy award which recognises a lifetime achievement in journalism in the Highlands and Islands.

Willie recalls his childhood at Sangobeg with great affection and a lot of nostalgia and attending Durness Primary School which he remembers with great affection with two very good teachers, Robina Mackay and Dolly Macdougall, women of very different temperaments, who complemented each other so well and his senior school years at Dornoch Academy. He graduated from the Scottish College of Commerce in Glasgow and entered journalism with DC Thomson at the companys Sunday Post office in Glasgow in 1966. It was later that year that he was given the opportunity to return to the Highlands as the Inverness based reported with the Peoples Journal until 1981 when he moved to Edinburgh to work in public relations with the National Trust for Scotland. He had spells with the Alloa Advertiser and Lothian Courier before the late Willie Wilson then editor of the Northern Starr offered him the chance to come back to the Highlands in 1984. Willie joined Aberdeen Journals in 1989 to set up and edit the Dingwall based East Ross and Herald & Post He became the Press and Journals Dingwall based reporter in 1991.He edited the Northern Starr for 3 years from June 2002 then a spell with the Inverness Courier before retiring in 2006. A well respected man in his field He occasionally provides holiday relief for weekly newspapers. When presented with the award Gordon Fyfe, chairman of the Highland Media Awards, said: "In his 40 years as a journalist. Willie has covered the full range of stories form the MOD to Madonna he is known as a stickler for detail and accuracy qualities which have earned him the respect of politicians sheriffs and other prominent community leaders.

Willie is a native Gaelic speaker and covered the Royal National Mod for many years and as a fine singer himself is often called on at Ceilidhs to contribute something form his repertoire of Sutherland songs. Willies other main interest is serving with the Territorial Army. He joined in 1960 and retired as major in 1992 spending the final 13 years in TA public relations.
He and his wife Jennifer live in Inverness the couple have 2 grown up sons Ian and Callum and a granddaughter.
�I'm very honoured indeed to have been invited to be chieftain. The first Durness Highland Games I remember attending were those of 1949. It was a wet day - so what's new? They went into abeyance for many years before being resuscitated in 1970. Sadly work commitments kept me from attending very often in recent years, and when I did turn up it was usually quite late, but I look forward very much to this year's games and hope I'll do justice to the faith the games committee have put in me. I'm sure I'll enjoy them, whatever the weather and whatever the circumstances.

The gathering committee has recently distributed letters to local groups and business offering the opportunity to provide local sponsorship and those interested are urged to return the form or contact the secretary. 

Ian Ross from Dornoch throws the weight for distance. He went on to win the McCoubrey Trophy for heavy events (confined to Sutherland).

Dark skies clear for Durness Highland Gathering

By Ronnie Lansley

Published:  03 August, 2007


JUST before midday last Friday a short but heavy rain shower looked to threaten the busiest day in the Durness calendar as the crowds gathered in the village square to watch and join the parade to start the 2007 Durness Highland Gathering. Fortunately the dark skies cleared and for the rest of the afternoon a bright sky with light winds prevailed and the Games were completed without a hitch. From the village square Chieftain Willie Morrison, led by the Forres Pipe Band and the Ullapool and District Junior Pipe Band, headed the parade to the games field in Shore Park, a natural arena set against the wonderful backdrop of the sea and with a small hill perfectly positioned to accommodate the spectators.


Supported on the platform by a small band of former chieftains, games chairman Iris Mackay welcomed visitors from home and abroad to this year's events before asking the Chieftain to officially open the 2007 Gathering. Willie Morrison is a native of Durness, brought up in Sangobeg with his brother David on the family croft where their elderly mother Jess still lived until shortly before her recent death.


Willie was educated at Durness Primary School and Dornoch Academy before attending Glasgow College of Commerce and going on to pursue a successful career in journalism with D C Thomson, Aberdeen Journals, and latterly as editor of the North Star in Dingwall. Now retired, he was recently awarded the Barron Trophy by his peers for a lifetime's achievement in journalism. Willie lives in Inverness with his wife Jennifer and they have two grown-up sons and a granddaughter who all love to come to the family home in Durness whenever they can. One of the few remaining native speakers of Durness Gaelic, and a popular singer of Gaelic songs at ceilidhs too, Willie started his introductory speech in his beloved mother tongue. He said he was honoured to be Chieftain and, although not one for achieving many sporting accolades, he was looking forward to meeting up with old friends and watching others participate in the sports. He confessed he was not much of a speechmaker, preferring to put his thoughts in writing, but in a mild and sincere manner he paid tribute to old friends and hoped everyone would enjoy themselves.

The games field was surrounded by stalls of all kinds, some local and some from further afield, including catering, crafts, confectionery, Fair Trade and local produce, giving the site a carnival air. Hee-Haw Donkeys of Latheron in Caithness were kept busy providing children with short rides, and the helicopter offering a thrilling opportunity to see Durness from the air was constantly carrying people around the locality for about six minutes at a time.


The crowds were in excess of recent years but, even with all the competitions open to everyone, competitor numbers were slightly down, even with compare Graham Bruce encouraging entries and explaining the history behind all the events. At just after 4pm the events drew to a close, the cups were awarded to the winners and the raffle was drawn.


The Durness Games were revived in 1970 after an absence of many years and two people, Danny Mackay and Dorothy Fraser, have been on the games committee ever since. As proceedings drew to a close, the games president Iain Anderson presented them with engraved glasses and decanters on behalf of the committee, bringing the Highland Gathering to another successful conclusion. Later in the evening the sports night dance was held in the village hall where dancing to Rhythm 'n' Reel went on into the small hours.

bottom of page