Primary school children in Inverness are being invited to join in the fun of the Inverness Winter Festival’s Hogmanay celebrations, “The Highland Fling”, which will feature the world’s first Hogmanay international Highland Games event – connected via satellite television link-up - between Inverness and athletes from the USA and New Zealand and Australia. Children are being encouraged to turn out in large numbers with their parents at Inverness Castle at 7 pm on Wednesday 31 December and form an army of Highlanders who will join a procession to the Hogmanay Party venue – the Northern Meeting Park Arena.
The procession will be led by a team of Inverness Highland Games Champions led by Malcolm Cleghorn of Strathpeffer who will be competing in a 56lb over the bar contest.
The USA will be represented by World Number Two Larry Brock who will be representing the Inverness Highland Games first sister Highland Games, the Triad Highland Games in Greensboro North Carolina, where it will be 7.05 pm on 31 December. The Southern Hemisphere will be represented by 10-times New Zealand and World Highland Games finalist Pat Hellier and Australian Highland Games circuit star Craig Reid, who is flying over to the Waipu Highland Games especially for the event, where it will be 1.05pm on New Year’s Day.
The match is being staged to celebrate the official linking of the Inverness and Triad Games with the Waipu Highland Games at one second past midnight.
Also linking up by satellite link from New Zealand will be Lewis Turrelll, MBE, the first overseas piper to win the Highland Society’s gold medal at the Northern Meeting event in Inverness in 1958. He will be Guest of Honour at the Waipu Games and offering a New Year greeting from the other side of the world.
It has been decided that The Highland Flingers will compete for a brand new trophy The McLeod Cup which is named after the famous Highland preacher Norman McLeod who led 1000 Gaelic Highlanders forced from their homes during the Highland Clearances on an epic journey lasting over 40 years that saw them eventually settle in Waipu. The McLeod Cup has been donated by 2
Councillor Glynis Sinclair and it is planned that the McLeod Cup will never leave the Highlands and will always remain in Inverness no matter who wins The Highland Fling each year.
The Inverness Winter Festival Organisers hope to make The Highland Fling an annual event and interest has already been expressed by Highland Games in Canada who would like to compete in the 2009 event.
Inverness Team Captain Malcolm Cleghorn said “The names of the other Inverness Highland Flingers will be announced next week after a behind closed doors trial to see who will be selected to throw for Scotland. The news that Larry Brock, Pat Hellier and Craig Reid are throwing shows just how seriously the other Games are taking this event.
“We know that they are going to watching the pictures from Inverness live on TV at their Games and we want them to see an Army of little Highlanders coming down from the Castle at 7.30pm. We would be delighted if as many children as possible children dress in as much tartan as they can and we would love to see some Braveheart painted faces in the crowd.”
In recognising that many children will not be able to stay up for the contest just after at midnight, an early fireworks display is being organised for them at the arena at 8 pm.
The March of the Highland Flingers will kick off the free “Highland Fling”, which will run from 8 pm until 1 am on New Year’s Day at the Northern Meeting Park Arena – the venue of the recent successful St Andrew’s Day Concert.
Indie-Rock Band The Magic Numbers have been signed up to headline the show which will be hosted by Moray Firth Radio’s Ken Kelman.
Others bands playing will be Shutter, Lowtide Revelry, Single Malt Sound System, and Albannach, who will bring the party and the first Inverness Winter Festival to a rousing close.