2005 Inverness Highland Games Review -- Bumper Crowds Enjoy World Championships Preview!

The citizens of Inverness turned out in their thousands to get their first glimpse of the scale of event planned for 2006 when Inverness hosts the World Masters Championships on a gloriously sunny Highland Day. The 2005 City of Inverness Highland Games was enjoyed by an estimated crowd of over 10000 in an attraction packed Bught Park. The Games got underway with a spectacular Mass Highland Fling and was followed by a very moving playing of the Inverness Gathering by Chris MacDonald which was dedicated to the memory of Tom Mackenzie who had been an official at the Games for 52 years and sadly died since last year.

Games Chieftain Provost William Smith then declared the Games open after a stirring tune from the Inverness British Legion Pipes and Drums Band. The Guests of Honour at the Opening Ceremony were Scottish Masters International Chief Executive Bill Scruggs and his wife Linda from Colorado USA who had come over to help the Committee start work on next years Games approximately 5 minutes after this year’s closing ceremony ended! The Games then got underway with a packed programme of activities taking place in a number of arenas and villages spread all across an immaculate looking Bught Park. Its hard to summarise just how many enjoyable things happened at this years Games and everyone has their own magical memory which is exactly how it should be.

Three Year Old Holly Lyall became an instant star as she showed just how much a toddler has to concentrate when she is Highland Dancing and special mention must go to Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s Football Club’s Director of Football Graeme Bennett who overcame his fear of heights to raise £3000 for Marie Curie Cancer Care by sliding across Bught Park from the top of a crane as one of the many brave souls to travel down the giant Zip slide.

Congratulations David and Lisa!
For one young couple the day will live long in the memory – David Nimmons of Caithness took the opportunity to propose to his girlfriend Lisa Johnston from Tain. After completing the slide, David waited at the bottom on one knee to pop the question and luckily, she said yes.

Games Spectators had the opportunity to enjoy a three hour programme of Traditional Music hosted by Andy Ross in the Traditional Music Tent or an Asian Fashion Show and concert by top Bangladeshi Band Bakala in the first ever International Village ever seen at the Inverness Games. The March of the Highlanders Charity Walkers arrived to a rousing cheer after completing their annual walk from Culloden Battlefield to the Games field to raise money for the Highland Hospice just before the giant Coastguard Helicopter from Stornaway appeared overhead to film the Games field from above and then gently landed next to the Tug of War Arena so that everyone could get a closer look. After an absence of 42 years, Inverness was able to enjoy an afternoon of superb Pipe and Drums Band competition as the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association staged the first ever City of Inverness Pipe Band Competition which culminated in a spectacular Massed Pipes and Drums Band performance in the Main Arena.

Highlanders fly in from Germany.
The 1st Battalion The Highlanders had flown from Germany to compete and were clearly delighted when it was announced that they had won the Grade One Competition.

168 dancers competing all afternoon.
Records tumbled in the Highland Dancing Arena with 168 dancers competing all afternoon in a variety of splendidly contested competitions.

2005's largest clan gathering.
Dominating the field was the giant Clan Village sponsored by Tullochs which was the home of not only 2005’s largest Clan Gathering which was attended by 33 Clans but also the home of the Games Pre-Games and Post Games Concerts organised by Hootenannys which featured a whole host of the best traditional and contemporary bands in the Highlands. The Children’s Village was mobbed all afternoon as hundreds of youngsters enjoyed a whole host of Children’s Activities. There were numerous Military Displays to enjoy including a Giant Nimrod Display which made it look like an aircraft had been parked at the City end of the Stadium.

Parachute Display Team lands on sixpence!
The crowd really enjoyed the displays by the Royal Marine Reserve Unarmed Combat Display Team and roared their approval as the Army’s Golden Lions Parachute Display Team proved that it really is possible to land on a sixpence if there is a bottle of Tomatin Whisky at stake!.

Chris Macdonald of Inverness won the Donnie Manson Memorial Trophy as the best junior piper and Niall Stewart of Kyle of Lochalsh won the Glen Mhor Trophy as the best Senior. The Heavy events attracted a large field with 4 time World Champion Alistair Gunn and Icelandic Olympian Petur Guomundsson battling all afternoon with a quality field that included Jason Young and Murray Gunn from Scotland and Al Myers, Scott Campbell and Chad Ullom from the USA. Gunn collected the prizes for the Caber, Weight for Distance and Scots Hammer; Young for the Weight for Height and Inverness Stone and Guomundsen won the Shot Putt.

A wonderful family day out!
After the Games it was generally agreed that the Games had been a wonderful family day out and that if this was a preview of the kind of day that folk were going to enjoy in 2006, then next year’s World Masters Championships in Inverness are going to be unmissable.

Roll on 2006 !