2013 Jill & Graham Bruce
For the second time since the resurrection of the games in 1972 joint chieftains were appointed. In 2005 Phil Cunningham and Ally Bain held the honour and this year the tribute fell to Jill and Graham Bruce. Following the tradition the chieftains were piped to the Village Square with Chairperson Mary Mackay at 12 noon prompt to be presented with their cromach by committee member Janet Cordiner, meeting the former chieftains and leading the parade, piped by the Ullapool and District junior pipe band, to the Games Field at Shore Park.
The opening speech made by the chairperson welcomed a large crowd with gate numbers in excess of recent years. Mary paid tribute to committee member Danny Mackay who has been part of the organising group since 1972 but retried this year. Former Chieftain from 2002 Michael Mather passed away during the year and sympathies were expressed to the family. Mary applauded the accomplishments and involvements Jill and Graham had participated in during their nearly 30 years living and working in Durness. Graham arrived as young enthusiastic head teacher to the primary school and became involved in many community activities outside his teaching role. Jill also a qualified teacher took up teaching opportunities when available and eventually became head teacher to both Kinlochbervie and Durness after Graham retired. In 2009 Graham took advantage of the conditions in his contract to take a year’s sabbatical but retired a year later and started to train for a degree in Tourism. Earlier this year Jill also changed direction and accepted a managerial appointment at a care home at Inverurue near Aberdeen taking the couple back to their roots and closer to family.
For the last few years Graham was the announcer at the games but this year the role was taken over by local lad Scott Macpherson making a perfect first appearance. Scott kept the crowd aware of all the results and managed to inform the audience of some background to the events.
Unfortunately dancing entries were down but there was good participation in all the other events with Scott Ryder from London breaking three records for open Heavy Events. Light shot 55' 5" previously held by Geoff Capes since 1985 with a distance of 54' 2", heavy shot 48' 10" previously held by R Price since 2011 at 46' 2" and weight for distance 89' 2.5' previously held by L Brock since 2004 at 88' 1.5".
For most of the afternoon the weather was sunny bright and warm but a sea mist rolled in and the sky became grey and heavy. Thunder and lightning brought the afternoons activities to an abrupt halt. At around four thirty the heavens opened and within minutes the ground was flooded. Participants in the tug of war and those out running the hill run were caught in the midst of the downpour.
The games are a highlight of the Durness calendar and this year was no exception. A dedicated group of volunteers and endless support makes the occasion possible.