Gearing up for Harpenden's Highland hoorah

PUBLISHED: 19:00 21 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:56 06 May 2010

Last year's Highland Gathering

Last year's Highland Gathering

MORE than 60 years of celebrating Scotland has set Harpenden up for a highland gathering of gigantic proportions this summer. The Harpenden Lions, a fundraising group based in the town, is hosting its Highland Gathering on Sunday, July 11, at Rothamsted

MORE than 60 years of celebrating Scotland has set Harpenden up for a highland gathering of gigantic proportions this summer.

The Harpenden Lions, a fundraising group based in the town, is hosting its Highland Gathering on Sunday, July 11, at Rothamsted Park and is inviting everyone along to enjoy a slice of Scotland.

From a Highland dancing competition to marching pipe bands and a Caledonian ceilidh band, the annual Highland Gathering offers a real insight into Scottish traditions and has been doing so for decades.

The tradition kicked off in 1946 when the St Albans & Mid-Herts Caledonian Society organised some local highland games at Wheatham-pstead to raise money for Scottish engineers who were out of work when the war ended.

The games, which moved to the current Harpenden location in 1950, flourished for a few years before they petered out in the late 1950s.

A break of about 40 years then ensued before the Harpenden Lions club decided to revive the gathering in the late 1990s.

Margarita Somerville, formerly of St Albans & Mid-Herts Caledonian Society, said that she remembered visiting the games when she was a girl: "My father was on the committee for those games and they were a great event each summer. When the sun shone and the crowds came it was like a mini Braemar Gathering.

"My memory is of long picnic lunches while watching the various events in the arena."

The first of the modern Games - the Harpenden Highland Gathering - took place at Harpenden Rugby Club in 1996, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the first games.

This July, visitors can expect all the usual attractions including heavy events such as putting the shot, sheaf tossing and caber tossing.

For more information about the Harpenden Highland Gathering, visit the Harpenden Lions Club website at www.harpenden-lions.co.uk or phone the help line on 0845 833 7426.

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