Chieftain says Halkirk Highland Games have 'changed out of all recognition'
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The Halkirk Highland Games have "changed out of all recognition" since the chieftain, Viscount Thurso, was a child in the 1950s.
But in his programme foreword, he stresses that the spirit of the games is still the same.
He writes: "My earliest memories of the Games are as a child in the ’50s. Much of the Games has changed out of all recognition, with more attractions, more tents, more sponsors and more professional competitors.
"But the spirit of the Games is just the same: serving the community and offering a great family day out with well-run events at the heart of the day. A day when families reunite to celebrate and friends return to enjoy the warmth of village hospitality. It is above all a day of fun.
"Based on years of tradition, the Games continue to improve and innovate every year. Competitors come from all across Scotland and from overseas to compete for the generous prizes and this keen competition creates a great spectator event."
Viscount Thurso adds: "The success of the Games is possible through the generous support of our sponsors for which we are most grateful.
"However, it is the hard work and organising skills of the committee who meet and plan throughout the year, and undertake all the work before, during and after the Games to make the day run smoothly, that make the Games the success it is. I thank them for all their hard work; but most of all it is the support of visitors and locals that makes Games day the great occasion it is, and I thank everyone for all your support, and wish you an enjoyable Halkirk Games 2023."
Last year's event was the first since the start of Covid and proved to be a record-breaking day, with a best-ever crowd of 3346 generating the highest gate receipts of £16,976.
Records were also broken on the field, with Nikki Manson from Glasgow creating three new ground records in the ladies' long jump, high jump and the hop, step and leap. Manson beat the previous high jump record of 1.40 metres, set in 2019 by E Imhoff from Italy, with a jump of 1.43m.
She also set a new record in the long jump with a leap of 15 feet 1 inch, easily beating the previous 13 ft 2½ inches established in 2018 by S Owen. Manson completed her hat-trick by smashing the hop, step and leap record with a jump of 29 feet 2 inches, beating the previous record of 27 ft 7 inches also set by Owen in 2018.
Some of the best athletes in Scotland were competing in the track-and-field events and it showed when Allan Hamilton from Edinburgh set a new record for the 85 metres race with a time of 9.03 seconds, beating the previous one of 9.30 seconds, established by P Walker in 1999.
In the heavy events, there was a close contest between Kyle Randalls from Falkirk and Vlad Tulacek from the Czech Republic with the former winning the 16lb and 22lb hammers, the 28lb and 56lb weight for distance while the latter came first in the 16lb ball, the 22lb Halkirk stone, the 56lb weight for height and tossing the caber.
Tulacek also won the farmer's walk event and set a new record 59 feet, although the stones being used were lighter than in previous years. Tulacek's performance resulted in him being crowned the heavy champion after a keen tussle with Randalls.
The open cycling championship in 2022 went to Charles Fletcher from Kelso who won six of his seven events, while Michelle Gordon from Huntly won the senior open Highland dancing championship.
Throughout the afternoon the crowd was entertained by the Thurso and Wick pipe bands.