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PICTURES: Ellie's design is flying high as new Banffshire flag unveiled


By Alan Beresford

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AFTER months of hard work and a public vote, historic Banffshire’s new flag is now flying proudly all over the county.

(From left) Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire Andrew Simpson, March Pursuivant and Honorary Vexillologist Philip Tibbetts and flag design winner Ellie Stewart of Portessie Primary. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
(From left) Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire Andrew Simpson, March Pursuivant and Honorary Vexillologist Philip Tibbetts and flag design winner Ellie Stewart of Portessie Primary. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

It was the culmination months of work and a public vote as of a competition to design a flag for historic Banffshire which was launched by Andrew Simpson, the Lord-Lieutenant of Banffshire, in February 2023. With the support of Philip Tibbetts, March Pursuivant and Honorary Vexillologist at the Lyon Court, members of the public, including schools, were encouraged to submit designs. From the hundreds of entries, a committee of Banffshire residents selected four designs.

A public vote was organised by Highland News Media, both online and through their newspaper titles including the Banffshire Advertiser. The winning design has been registered with the Lyon Court.

Three of the four finalists hailed from Keith Primary in the shape of Oonagh Blake, Megan Jamieson and Dion Moir.

The three runners-up from Keith Primary (from left) Oonagh Blake, Megan Jamieson and Dion Moir. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
The three runners-up from Keith Primary (from left) Oonagh Blake, Megan Jamieson and Dion Moir. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

It was a proud moment for Portessie Primary School pupil Ellie Stewart, whose design topped the Banffshire-wide poll garnering over 50 per cent of the vote.

All of the finalists received a prize.

Explaining her rationale for the flag, Ellie said: "I did a bridge because Banffshire has a lot of bridges.

"I did a sunset because we have a lot of good sunsets."

Priscilla Gordon-Duff is joined by locals, friends and family as the Banffshire flag is unveiled at Drummuir Castle...The Banffshire flag is raised at Drummuir Castle. ..Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Priscilla Gordon-Duff is joined by locals, friends and family as the Banffshire flag is unveiled at Drummuir Castle...The Banffshire flag is raised at Drummuir Castle. ..Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

Ellie's winning design was proudly hoisted aloft at Castle Hill, Cullen near the end of a special ceremony in front of invited guests and members of the public.

WATCH: Ellie's flag is raised at Castle Hill.

Thanking all who had supported the project in some way, Mr Simpson said: "We were delighted with the number of entries to the competition and the judges had a very, very difficult choice.

"[We chose the four finalists] because they very cleverly picked out the themes that were true of Banffshire. There was the boar's head – which is symbolic in some of the traditional heraldics of this area. Then there was the flower of Banffshire. We have bridges, well, we only have to stand here and look down at the bridges...we can see how important bridges are to the area. And, of course, we had the barrel for whisky, a barrel for the herring industry bringing farming and fishing together."

After unveiling Ellie as the victor in the public vote, Mr Simpson referred to elements of her design adding: "As we stand here, we've got the sea in front of us, the blue.

Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire Andrew Simpson, joined by Honorary Vexillologist Philip Tibbetts, announces the winner of the flag design competition. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire Andrew Simpson, joined by Honorary Vexillologist Philip Tibbetts, announces the winner of the flag design competition. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

"There're rivers all across Banffshire...so many rivers in each of our communities and across all the rivers are iconic bridges.

"[Then we have] the sun, I think everybody has used the yellow or gold [in their designs] and for the whisky, the harvest and the sand. How often do we stand and look out to sea at the golden sunsets?

"What a wonderful place we live in.

"I think your flag has captured so much of Banffshire and well done. I hope for years to come it'll be used to promote our area and our sense of identity."

Honorary Vexillologist Philip Tibbetts leads the way to the top of Castle Hill along with the four finalists in the flag design process and Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire Andrew Simpson.Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Honorary Vexillologist Philip Tibbetts leads the way to the top of Castle Hill along with the four finalists in the flag design process and Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire Andrew Simpson.Picture: Daniel Forsyth

During the competition, Mr Tibbetts worked to ensure compliance with heraldic traditions.

He commented: "This is always a very special moment not just for your community of Banffshire but for the nation, as well.

"We're a nation that's a patchwork of identities and to keep that identity itself we need to preserve and promote that patchwork.

"Your flag is a way of doing that. What I'm delighted about, from a national perspective, is that not only do you get a symbol of identity that you're able to fly from now on, but this flag does not replace any other flags you may be wanting to fly. This is something you can fly alongside whatever you like.

Ellie Stewart's winning design flies proudly over Castle Hill in Cullen. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Ellie Stewart's winning design flies proudly over Castle Hill in Cullen. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

"This one flag is a symbol of identity and that's to be treasured. When you fly this flag alongside one of your own ones that is a message of relationship, and that is rare.

"So, congratulations Banffshire, I hope you enjoy flag here and I'm happy to say I worked on it."

Music at the event was provided by Buckie and District Pipe Band.

The Buckie and District Pipe Band played some stirring tunes at the ceremony. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
The Buckie and District Pipe Band played some stirring tunes at the ceremony. Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

In Ellie's design the white horizontal band represent the bridges that are emblematic of the county with rivers running through it and along its borders; from ancient in-land river crossings to the industrial viaducts along the coast. The blue colour represents both the rivers and the sea while the golden-orange below the bridge represents the barley and whisky made from the county's waters. The sun and golden sky symbolises the natural sunsets and agriculture.

The competition and development of the Banffshire flag has been sponsored and supported by Gray Composting Services, Walker’s Shortbread, Highland News Media and The Seafield Arms, Cullen.

Saturday also saw the main Moray flag-raising will take place in Elgin at 2pm. There were also simultaneous flag-raising events in Forres (Tolbooth), Lossiemouth (Station Park), Fochabers (Milne's Primary) and Rothes (Glen Grant Distillery).

The flag will be available for use by anyone either living in, or with connections to, Banffshire. Digital copies will be available for downloading from the Banffshire Lord-Lieutenant website.

Priscilla Gordon-Duff is given a hand to unveil the Banffshire flag...The Banffshire flag is raised at Drummuir Castle. ..Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Priscilla Gordon-Duff is given a hand to unveil the Banffshire flag...The Banffshire flag is raised at Drummuir Castle. ..Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

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