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Lochaber singer Rachel Walker said winning the Gold Medal at her home Mòd is one of the proudest moments of her career.
Speaking to the Lochaber Times shortly after her winning performance, Rachel of Spean Bridge said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted to have won. I’ve entered the Gold Medal before but not for five years and only entered this year because it’s in Lochaber, so I’m very happy to have actually won.
‘It’s really special to win at the Mòd at home.’
The 41-year-old mother of two reflected on the busy run-up to the competition: ‘It’s been so busy. I’ve been singing with my choir this week and had a concert. I’m looking forward to going home and putting my feet up now.’
Rachel works as a music teacher at the West Highland College UHI in Fort William and at the Plockton School of Excellence in between recording and performing – so she is no stranger to the stage.
Although born in Salisbury in Wiltshire, Rachel said her love of Gaelic music grew after moving to Wester Ross at the age of eight. It was here she attended Kinlochewe Primary School and Gairloch High School, learning the fundamentals of Gaelic song and traditional music.
Rachel was one of the first students on the Scottish music course at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, where she studied Gaelic song under the tutelage of the renowned Gaelic singer Kenna Campbell.
With three albums and a successful singing career already to her name, Rachel can now add the illustrious Gold Medal to her accolades.
Reflecting on her medal winning performance the morning after, she said: ‘I tried to get some sleep but I was just buzzing. It hasn’t really sunk in.
‘A lot of people said, ‘why would you want to enter the Gold Medal?’. But for me it’s been a big personal challenge and it’s one of the biggest accolades I’ve received.
‘It’s certainly not easy, and on a personal note, it’s one of the proudest moments of my career.’
She continued: ‘I’ve been in finals before but really suffered with nerves for the Gold Medal. Competitive singing is very different than being in the studio. There’s a lot going on in the hall and it’s difficult to keep concentration.’
Rachel explained that being a non-native speaker of Gaelic makes it more of an honour for her to win.
‘As a non-native speaker, it’s important for me to get both the Gaelic and the music right,’ she said, ‘so it’s a very big personal achievement for me.’