Ghillie kicks off 125th Cowal Highland Gathering celebrations

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Cowal Highland Gathering (CHG) organisers kicked their 125th anniversary celebrations off in style as Ghillie the CHG bear left Dunoon onboard Western Ferries with multiple World Highland Dancing Champion Morgan Bamford on a world trip which will cover three continents and take eight months to complete.

Named Ghillie by the Gathering’s social media followers, in recognition of a Ghillie as a male attendant for a Scottish Highland chief as well as the shoes Highland dancers wear in competition, he will start his adventure with Morgan in New Zealand before heading to Australia for a couple of months.

While there, Ghillie will visit seven Highland dancing schools, along with the ACT Regional Committee of Highland Dance. From Australia he heads to the US where he’ll visit all four corners of the country, as well as being taken for sushi by the organisers of California’s Vista Highland Games. Then it will be on to Canada where, among other adventures, he will be in the half time show of a Harlem Globetrotters game, before heading over to Europe. He will have a brief stop in Scotland, where he’ll attend the 50th Thurso Festival and be guest of honour during the week of Beltane, before heading back across the Atlantic to visit the Canadian Highland Dancing Championships. Then he’ll dash back to Scotland, arriving home in Dunoon in time for the 125th Cowal Highland Gathering.

CHG chairman Ronnie Cairns was there to wave off Ghillie and Morgan. He said: ‘Cowal Highland Gathering has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people across its 125-year history.

From competitors to spectators, we wanted to involve as many people in our anniversary celebrations as possible. The idea to send a bear around the world started as a post on social media. We thought we would perhaps get a few people interested but we were inundated with offers from the four corners of the world. We’re absolutely delighted to have this opportunity to send our good wishes to so many people through our very special envoy.

‘Some of the adventures Ghillie is about to embark on are nothing short of astounding, I’m just sorry I didn’t suggest accompanying him on his journey!’

As she waved goodbye Morgan Bamford said: ‘I’ve got many wonderful memories of Cowal Highland Gathering, so I was thrilled to be asked to accompany Ghillie on the first leg of his journey.

‘Ghillie is on an incredible adventure and I hope each of his visits inspires a new generation of Highland dancers, pipers, drummers and athletes.’

For more information about Ghillie’s journey follow Cowal Highland Gathering on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The 2019 Cowal Highland Gathering runs from August 29-31.