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It has been three years since the Scottish Six Days Trial (SSDT) last came to Fort William and to mark this on Sunday the High Street was packed with excited spectators eagerly awaiting the parade of competitors which by tradition marks the beginning of the event.
Led by Lochaber Schools Pipe Band and police motorcyclists, around 300 trials bikes made their way slowly along the High Street flanked by more than 1,000 spectators on each side cheering and filming as their favourite riders drove by.
In the past, the parade has a been a carnival-like affair with riders, often in colourful fancy dress, exchanging high fives with youngsters. Although none of this is now allowed, a few competitors attached their national flags to bikes and helmets with Irish rider Russell Houston from Knock wrapping himself in a Ukranian flag to highlight his support for the war torn country.
Lochaber and District Club riders Paul Paterson and Gary MacLennan were given a particularly warm welcome and cheers from the crowd for their recent fundraising activities in support of local Macmillan Cancer Support services.
Multiple winner of SSDTs past Dougie Lampkin with number 67 also drew the attention of many fans in his bright yellow jacket.
The whole of the West End car park is given over to the trial for the entire week, serving as start finish and a great place for spectators to catch up with riders, commercial biking stalls and food.
Programmes listing all of the competitors are available by the bar and cafe set up in the car park. These are being sold by Caol woman Annette Chambers and members of her family in aid of the Leanne Fund which supports children and young adults in the Highlands and Islands who suffer from cystic fibrosis.
Annette, whose daughter Arienne has this illness, has been distributing and selling the programmes for more than 25 years and receiving a donation from the trial organisers each year.
Throughout its 100 year plus history the vital job of clerk of the course has never been held by a local person but this is about to change as current deputy clerk and local rider David Dignan takes over the role next year from present, long-serving incumbent Jeff Horne.
It is the job of the clerk to negotiate with landowners to ensure the routes are set as agreed and suitably marked for the competitors to follow.
David said: ‘I have been deputy for a few years and I am really looking forward to taking on the full responsibility when Jeff stands down.
‘The fact this role is falling to a Lochaber local for the first time is also a great honour.’
More from the SSDT a Pre’ 65 Scottish Two Day Trial in next week’s Lochaber Times.
NO_F18_2022_SSDT_Parade 01: SSDT David Dignan will become of Clerk of the Course for 2023. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.
NO_F18_2022_SSDT_Parade 02: Local riders Paul Paterson.(left) and Gary MacLennan take their place in Sunday’s parade. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.
NO_F18_2022_SSDT_Parade 03: Lochaber Schools Pipe Band provided stirring music for the crowds. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.
NO_F18_2022_SSDT_Parade 04: Members of the Army team were given a round of applause as they passed the podium. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.
NO_F18_2022_SSDT_Parade 05: Rider number 1, Lewis Bell representing the Edinburgh and St. George Club. Photograph: Iain Ferguson. alba.photos.
NO_F18_2022_SSDT_Parade 06: Kinlochleven and District riders (left – right) Tyler Murphy, Craig Robertson and Calum Murphy. Photograph: Iain Ferguson. alba.photos.
NO_F18_2022_SSDT_Parade 07: Russell Houston from Knock in Ireland wore a Ukranian flag to show support for their struggles. Photograph: Iain Ferguson. alba.photos
NO_F18_2022_SSDT_Parade 08: Police motorcyclist lead the High Street Parade. Photograph: Iain Ferguson. alba.photos
NO_F18_2022_SSDT_Parade 09: Multiple SSDT winner Dougie Lampkin smiles as fans applause him. Photograph: Iain Ferguson. alba.photos.
NO_F18_2022_SSDT_Parade 10: Annette Chambers (right) with her niece Marie Oliver and sister Stephanie Allan sell programmes to raise money for the Leanne Fund. Photograph: Iain Ferguson. alba.photos.
NO_F18_2022_SSDT_Parade 11: Ships’ eye view of the Park Ferme. Photograph: Iain Ferguson. alba.photos.
NO_F18_2022_SSDT_Parade 12: Park Ferme. Photograph: Iain Ferguson. alba.photos.