Ready, steady, skim

Donald Melville ready to stone skim on Seil as part of this month's Scarecrow Festival programme DM_T28_DonaldMelville

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Wanna-be world champion stone skimmers have got the chance of warming up for the main event coming to Argyll in September.

Thanks to Seil Scarecrow Festival later this month, stone skimmers are being offered the opportunity to get in some early target practice before the real world championships return to Easdale Island.

Scarecrow festival organisers have recruited Easdale’s own Donald Melville to run a more relaxed and less competitive version of the main event that traditionally attracts thousands of entrants from all over the world.

The Scarecrow Skim takes place on Sunday July 24 and anyone can turn up and sign up on the day to have a shot. The challenge will be organised in age groups.

The plan so far is for people to have a go at skimming stones into a paddling pool in the middle of the pond at the side of Seil Island Hall in Ellenabeich.

‘It’s more like target practice really,’ said Donald, who lives on Easdale and was one of the islanders who revived the world stone skimming championships after a gap of 14 years in 1997 as a way of fundraising for the community.

Donald was the event’s main organiser for 24 years before stepping down to let others take it on after Covid. The date for this year’s championships is Sunday September 25.

‘I’m hoping to bring my experiences from the Easdale event over to Seil as a fun version of the championships. Anything for a laugh and a good cause. This will be less serious, more relaxed and certainly less competitive.

‘The perfect stones for skimming get washed up on the shore right here and the natural arena is perfect for it,’ he added.

Round, small and thin stones are the top qualities needed for that perfect skim.

Tattybogle fun starts on Seil for one week on Saturday July 23.

Entry forms, costing £1, are at Balvicar Stores now for islanders wanting to make their own scarecrow to go up outside their homes and join this year’s trail.

Seil’s first scarecrow festival raised thousands of pounds for the island hall development fund – boosted even more by a generous £4,000 donation as a thanks for all the fun from a visiting American family.

A taste of what is to come includes a quiz night at the Oyster Bar in Ellenabeich on the first Friday night, cinema screenings in Seil Hall for youngsters and adults, a thanksgiving church service on Sunday July 25 and a pop-up cafe, also in the hall, throughout the whole week from 10am to 4pm.

Plans are also being made to bring back the popular heritage and nature tours; craft and story-telling sessions will be featured; there will be a five-a-side challenge for pub teams, gents and ladies on the first Sunday and on the final Saturday of the festival; there will be a Highland fair with stalls, a tug-of-war, lots of other activities and a dog show.

A brass band will also be popping up at random locations during the week for your entertainment.


Caption: Donald Melville ready to stone skim on Seil as part of this month’s Scarecrow Festival programme