Fears for future of Cupar Highland Games as 2023 gathering cancelled

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The future of Cupar Highland Games is in considerable doubt after the decision to cancel this summer’s event.

The team behind the historic gathering has issued a plea to the community to get on board and take the burden off its small committee of volunteers.

The games, which date back to at least 1886, were restarted in 1979 and have become part of the region’s summer circuit, drawing big crowds and some of the big names on the circuit.

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But the event needs more people involved in the planning and running to continue into 2024. Without them, it may fold completely.

Cupar Highland Games faces an uncertain futureCupar Highland Games faces an uncertain future
Cupar Highland Games faces an uncertain future

Bill McSeveney, chairman, ssaid: “We have a proud history and it is one which the committee members are reluctant to see passing.

“However, the current team cannot continue forever - and the increasing age and state of health of our members now has to play a part in our deliberations.

“For the time-being, we intend to remain as part of the Scottish Highland Games Association, but are now agreed in cancelling this year’s event. The current committee members remain keen to be involved in retaining the games as an annual fixture in the Cupar calendar of activities, but we do need help, for without it the games will have to cease.”

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The games were brought back to Cupar over 40 years ago by David Martin, John Hendry and David Lang, assisted by members of the town’s Round Table – and for many years the event flourished.

It was written into its constitution that profits over and above expected running costs were to be donated to local charities and to assist with Scottish athletes attending the Commonwealth Games. Since 1979, a total of £35,000 has been passed on.

The games have also featured a number of athletess who went on to become household names across Scotland including Linsey McDonald, Liz McColgan, and Yvonne Murray.

They have also given recognition given to many locals for their part in assisting the community and to others for service in the wider field. The honour of being ‘Games Chieftain’ has been bestowed on well-known figures such as Menzies Campbell, David Rollo, Richard Brickley, Ronnie and Mary Law, to Alan Wells and Caroline Innes.

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Added Bill: “We are grateful that, over the years, the Games Committee have been able to count on the assistance of Cupar Rotary, the Howe of Fife Rugby Club and Cupar Scouts for significant support in the days leading up to the Games, but activities well prior to the event itself are now proving to be taxing on what is a very small committee.

“The committee needs to have fresh blood, new ideas and a greater vitality. As a group, for the last few years we have discussed making the Games more community focussed and less reliant on tourists for financial support.

“For a while we had hoped that linking the Games to a proposed Cupar Civic Week would provide an answer, but the recent pandemic and other factors within the community itself have meant that there has been less progress in this area than we had hoped for.

“At a time when many people are showing considerable interest in their country’s cultural heritage, it will be very sad to see the Games go. We like to view the event as the ‘Friendly Games’ and for many a foreign tourist – and they have come from all over the world – their appreciation of our country has been heightened by what they have experienced in Cupar on the day of the Games.”

Anyone who can offer help – there is a particular need for a secretary - should contact the [email protected]

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