Ghillie the bear kicks off 125th Cowal High­land Gather­ing cel­e­bra­tions with world trip

The Oban Times - - LEISURE -

Cowal High­land Gather­ing (CHG) or­gan­is­ers kicked off their 125th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions 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.

Mor­gan Bam­ford and Ghillie set off on their ad­ven­tures.

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