Bermuda’s first Highland Games promises to be a fun day out!

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  • Tossing the caber.

    Tossing the caber.

  • The Atholl Highlanders inspection by the Duke of Atholl.

    The Atholl Highlanders inspection by the Duke of Atholl.

Tossing the caber, short- and medium-distance races, team tug o’ wars, a wide variety of Highland dancing and of course marching bands promises to make Bermuda’s first-ever Highland Games a big hit.

The Games, which are being held under the auspices of the Caledonian Society of Bermuda, will offer residents and visitors the opportunity to display a range of talent, and will include tests of strength, speed and agility.

For many, however, it will be the musical talent on show that will draw them to the Sandys 360 complex on the afternoon and evening of Friday, June 8.

It was the chance of inviting the Atholl Highlanders pipe and drum corps to the Island that prompted the decision to hold the Games, but there was no question that the talent of local marching bands would be enlisted to create a musical display in the fashion of a military tattoo. And for that reason, the visiting musicians will be joined by the Bermuda Islands Pipe Band, the Bermuda Regiment Band, the Somerset Brigade Band and the Sandys Drumline to end the day’s activities with a flourish.

Following the opening ceremonies at 3.30 pm, there will be a series of competitions, some of which the public will be invited to join, including adult and junior tossing the caber, short- and medium-distance races and the team tug o’ war.

A main feature of any Highland Games is the Highland Dancing competition, and Bermudian dancers, who have been working hard for many months to hone their skills, will be judged by two judges from Canada. There will be at least six different dances included in the competition for three age groups (eight and under, 12 and under, 13 and over): Highland Fling, Sword Dance, Seann Truibhas, Reel, Scottish Lilt and Flora McDonald’s Fancy.

The judges, Carleigh Leighton and Dana Gamache, are highly-accomplished professional dancers and adjudicators with the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing (SOBHD), the world governing body of Highland Dancing.

“In order to participate in the competition dancers need to be registered with the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dance (SOBHD),” explained Marissa Stones, Bermuda Islands Pipe Band Dance Division Instructor. “Once registered, the dancer can compete at just about any SOBHD-registered competition in the world. We hope that in the future, as the Bermuda Highland Games catch on, Bermuda will become a stop for competing dancers.”

During the afternoon, there will also be piping demonstrations given by members of the Bermuda Island Pipe Band and members of the Atholl Highlanders. While the Bermuda Island Pipe Band is a well-known and well-loved feature of Bermudian life, the Atholl Highlanders rarely travel beyond the borders of Scotland, and within Scotland usually parade no more than twice a year, so the opportunity to see members of Britain’s last remaining private army on parade is one not to be missed.

On their home grounds of Blair Atholl, the pipe and drum corps’ appearance at the Atholl Gathering at the end of May each year is billed as an “unrivalled spectacle that gives locals and visitors alike the chance to participate in a unique Highland tradition that has persisted for generations.”

Reflecting on their visit, Lieut. Colonel James Murray, noted: “The prospect of the Atholl Highlanders’ tour to Bermuda is causing great excitement in the Regiment. We are looking forward to visiting the beautiful Island of Bermuda for the first time. The first Highland Games in Bermuda is causing considerable interest among the men, and as the only remaining private Regiment in Britain we are very proud to be allowed to take part in the Queen’s Birthday Parade on the Island in Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee Year.”

Viscount Charles Dupplin, Captain of the Athol Highlanders colour guard, and CEO of Hiscox Bermuda, is one of the driving forces behind the Games. “I have been an Atholl Highlander for more than 20 years,” he observed, “and have been with the Highlanders at community events in quite a few countries but have never known the Highlanders more excited than at their visit to Bermuda and to the Highland Games.

“There are more and more links of history and culture that I have come across as the Highland Games planning has moved on,” continued Captain Dupplin. “I suspect that there will be quite a bit of debate about the relative delights of rum and whisky in the spare moments.”

The compelling beat of the Sandys Drumline will add another thread to the rich tapestry of sound during the afternoon, and the youngsters will take their place alongside the members of the Bermuda Regiment band under the direction of Major Dwight Robinson and of the Somerset Brigade band, under the direction of Major Ellsworth Bean.

At 8.30 pm the massed bands of the Atholl Highlanders, Bermuda Islands Pipe Band and Highland Dancers, the Bermuda Regiment Band, Somerset Brigade Band and Sandys Drumline will combine to present a rousing musical finale that will provide a fitting end to the community gathering.

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Published Apr 26, 2012 at 10:09 am (Updated Apr 26, 2012 at 10:07 am)

Bermuda’s first Highland Games promises to be a fun day out!

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