|The Inverness Highland Games and Armed Forces Day celebrations at Northern Meeting Park on Saturday attracted thousands of spectators, glorious sunshine and a world class field of heavies to the Highland Capital on Saturday. After two of the wettest Saturdays imaginable for the Barclays Scottish Open Golf Championships and The Simple Minds concert; conditions were perfect for the North of Scotland’s biggest gathering of the year and months of hard work behind the scenes in the run up to the event was rewarded in the best possible way.
The parade started at 1pm and passed Inverness Town House where the salute was taken by The Lord Lieutenant Donald Cameron of Lochiel, Provost Jimmy Gray and Honorary Air Commodore Major General Seymour Munro CBE LVO and Sir Alistair Irwin KCB, CBE, President of the Royal British Legion Scotland. . The applause that greeted the parade every step of the way as it made its way across the River Ness was as warm as it was well deserved; and the roar that greeted the arrival of the parade at Northern Meeting Park seemed to put an extra bit of spring in many an aging step. After the parade came to a halt in front of the grandstand, the Reverend Peter Howson led a moving Drumhead Service before the veterans stepped forward to receive their badges from the Lord Lieutenant.
At the conclusion of the presentation ceremony, the 2011 Inverness Highland Games opened with a huge Mass Highland Fling featuring dancers from the Elizabeth Fraser and Edith Macpherson Schools of Highland Dancing; who together with the Falcon Drummers, the massed pipes and drums and members of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society kept the spectators entertained throughout the afternoon in the main arena.
The athletics and the heavy events started at 2.30pm and provided an outstanding afternoons entertainment. The field of 16 heavies was one of the largest and most competitive fields that Inverness has attracted in recent years with 5 times World Champion Ryan Vierra and Johnny Reed (USA), Anthony Lordi (Switzerland) and Eric Alagille (France) joining a powerful Scottish field which included World Masters Champion Jason Young, World Amateur Champion Sinclair Patience and former World Champion and current Scots Hammer record holder Bruce Aitken.
After an afternoon of intense competition lasting just under 5 hours, Bruce Aitken was crowned champion; with victories in the Hammer (128 feet) and Weight over the Bar (14 feet and six inches). Ryan Vierra won the Weight for Distance (69 feet and 2 inches) and Jason Young won the Inverness Stone (37 feet and 9 inches) and the Caber. To the delight of the crowd the Caber competition had to be restarted 3 times as the giant 19 foot 10 inch and 19 foot 6 inch monsters provided by the Committee snapped. Thankfully the heaviest caber available, an 18 foot 9 inches beast weighing 146 pounds was able to take the punishment and the cheers when Jason Young launched it for a perfect throw signalled a perfect end to a wonderful day.