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DAN MACKAY: Wick works weil as Gala Night helps lift our spirits

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The Real Mackay by Dan Mackay

Procession of floats and fancy dress for Wick Gala Week 2022. Picture: DGS
Procession of floats and fancy dress for Wick Gala Week 2022. Picture: DGS

The Royal Burgh of Wick held up to its motto as a place that ‘works weil’ if anything was to go by on Gala Night.

The grey old town was certainly punching way above its weight with a fine display of decorative floats and fancy dress street collectors who paraded through the town, lifting the spirits of the many hundreds of people who had lined the streets for the first time since the Covid restrictions were fully lifted.

There was a tremendous air of fun and festivity. It was like the old carefree days were back, despite the ominous skies which later heralded a few rain showers. No one cared a jot!

Wick Pipe Band led the procession, pipes and drums announcing the royal court whose day of glory had had to be held over for three years. At long last we were free to celebrate! And weren’t they all resplendent in their magnificent costumes?

What a huge boost to the morale of the town that can still, despite the odds, lay on such a splendid turnout of folk – young and old – who want to dress up and party. It is surely our equivalent of the Lord Mayor’s Parade and I can think of only a few places that can come up with something on such a spectacular scale.

And an amazing £9000-plus was raised for local charities on the opening night.

Full credit to the townsfolk of Wick who do so much each and every day to look after one another and help raise our spirits in what has been a very challenging time. Covid is still at large and its impact felt as folk continue to self-isolate to reduce transmission and protect others.

We have heard much about a likely new epidemic of mental ill health arising from the constraints associated with the lockdowns, people’s inability to socialise and a worrying – if not disturbing – lack of both GP and psychiatric services. Freedom of Information requests have revealed huge hikes in the numbers of referrals as patients await access for assessment and treatment.

It’s a situation not likely to be resolved any time soon.

With NHS services under an enormous burden and their staff – who, let’s remind ourselves, we used to applaud from doorsteps each week – now facing exhaustion and burnout, it seems like the current dilemma has all the makings of a perfect storm…

And where are our politicians when you need them? After years of austerity, the lack of sufficient funding and inadequate workforce planning, the emerging crisis in the NHS will not be resolved overnight.

That’s why we Wickers – and indeed folk from every community – need to rely on one another for a few kind words of compassion and encouragement. It does go a long way. I’ve personally benefitted on many occasions from chance encounters when I’ve been out for walks around town.

Yes, there have been times when I felt low and disheartened but my spirits have always been raised by chats about this and that, realising you are not alone – that other people are going through their own stuff, too.

And always there are those in far worse situations. It puts life into perspective. We work well when we are there for one another, when we can and do lift each other’s spirits.

Dan Mackay, Wick.
Dan Mackay, Wick.

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