Scottish Government urged to support Highland Games groups
The Scottish Government has been urged to do more to support Highland Games, following a spate of cancellations because of lockdown restrictions.
North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie has called for the First Minister to offer support and certainty to Scotland's Highlands Games after it was revealed that 13 games, including Cupar in Mr Rennie's constituency, have already been cancelled, with more expected to follow.
His call comes after The Herald reported comments from Ian Grieve, secretary of the Scottish Highland Games Association, which oversees more than 60 events, describing the situation as "difficult" for organisers.
Mr Grieve went on to say: “We thought we would just write off the whole season last year and everything would be back to normal in 2021. It's looking pretty bleak already with 13 events cancelled and we’re not even out of February. Members face looming deadlines to decide whether to commit resources for events without knowing how financially viable they will be if audience numbers are capped.
"Each will have their own cut-off point. But there was nothing at all in the First Minister’s announcement this week about mass gatherings."
Mr Rennie, a former chieftain of the Cupar Highland Games, said: "The Highland games are iconic celebrations of Scottish culture but organisers are passing the point of no return for this year and they still cannot get a clear answer out of the First Minister.
"Without this clarity they are facing another fallow year or worse, the risk of putting together an event only for the government to pull the plug.
"These events are not put together over night, they are labours of love, months in the making. So far the Scottish Government has provided no detail about their plans for travel and mass gatherings through the summer and into the autumn.
"The First Minister must ensure the organisers receive the certainty they need to plan ahead and make sure that the games that have already been cancelled are supported to return at full strength next year."
It was announced that this year’s Cupar Highland Games would not be going ahead last month.
Chairman Bill McSeveney said the decision had to be taken with “considerable regret”.