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Sun shines as Fochabers gala makes triumphant return

By Alan Beresford

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A WEEKEND of gala fun made a very welcome return to Fochabers when the village celebrated in style.

Sunday, July 31 saw the gala in the square bask in the summer sun, bringing to a close three days of celebrations which began on the Friday with a tombola. The Saturday afternoon was time for a strawberry tea while the evening was the turn of a gala quiz.

Buckie and District Pipe Band got the gala afternoon off to a rousing start, leading a parade to Christie Square to open proceedings. They were followed by gala VIPs Grace Daley and Adam Reid and 14 tractors from Spey Valley Vintage Tractor Club.

A few minutes later, it was time for the Jean Carr Hill Race to get under starter's orders.

The race results were: 1. Male Senior category – Hamish Hickey; 1. Female Senior category – Sorcha Shepherd; 1. Male Over 40 Category – Dan Price-Davies; 1. Female Over 40 – Category Karen Simpson; 1. Male Over 50 category – Michael Rimmer; 1. Female Over 50 category – Ali Cowie; 1. Overall Male – Hamish Hickey; 1. Overall Female – Karen Simpson.

Gala committee chairwoman Liz Rennie said she was delighted with the reception the event received.

She said: "After the two year break due to Covid, we weren't sure how things would turn out.

"We have a willing group of volunteers and helpers who work so hard to make our events a success, helping to raise money 'By the Community, For the Community'. We decided that 'less is more' this year and pulled back on some of the events we normally run but let's make a success of the ones that we do run.

"I think that strategy probably worked well for us! I cannot thank our committee members and regular volunteers enough – without them Gala Weekend does not work. Our mission for the success of future galas must be to recruit more volunteers, especially for the setting up on Sunday morning. Many hands make light work!

"Overall it was a successful weekend. A very sincere thanks to all members of the committee, volunteers, local businesses for their generosity, those who donated prizes and provided services – we are most grateful."

Enjoying their day at the gala was local MP and MSP Douglas Ross and his family.

He said: “It was great to see the Fochabers gala back to full strength on Sunday.

“There was a great turnout of local people and visitors supporting members of the Village Association who once again staged an excellent event.

“There was so much to see and do. Our family were certainly kept occupied from the vintage tractors to the bouncy castles to fishing for ducks in the fountain.

“Throughout the weekend there was the usual range of activities and everyone associated with Fochabers Village Association should be thanked for the tremendous amount of work that was put in to make it the success it was.”

Crowds gathered to listen to singer Chris Grant followed by a display from Friskis and Svettis, local fitness group who run classes in Buckie, Keith and Fochabers, and then an energetic display from TOD Dancers, Buckie who charmed the crowds with their acrobatic dance displays from teeny dancers to older girls.

The Wheel of Fortune made a welcome return and the afternoon's entertainment came to a rousing end thanks to Elgin singer Colleen Murphy who sang a few favourites and crowd pleasers encouraged singalong and even some dancing.

Across the field, the grand gala BBQ, led by Shona Morrison and her team was completely sold out. The famous gala bottle stall did a roaring trade, keeping volunteers very busy whilst raising in excess of £900. There were teas and coffees provided by Autumn Club, refreshing fruit kebabs made by Fochabers in Bloom, candy floss made in Gordon Christie's iconic candy floss maker. Fochabers Men's Shed were to be found manning the Nail in the Bale stall while Fochabers SWI did likewise with the Lucky Squares.

Local Rainbows, Brownies and Guides manned the Hook a Duck, Fochabers Cricket Club encouraged wannabe cricketers to develop their skills at their activity stall, traditional favourites putting and bowling, manned by Hazel and Mark Lister, proved popular throughout the afternoon.

An amazing raffle, organised by Debbie Smith and her team, ran across the gala weekend.

This year, Fochabers Village Association were delighted to welcome Police Scotland Young Volunteers (PSYV Moray) managed by PC Yvonne Squair. This group of young people were a superb help to the Gala and Events Committee and did a sterling job manning the two Bouncy Castles throughout the afternoon. They also brought along a friend in 'Chase from Paw Patrol' who went around to meet some of the youngsters and visitors to the gala.

Together, all of the gala events raised an impressive total of £5315.90 after expenses. The gala day itself contributed £4274.90 while the events held over the Friday and Saturday chipped in £1611 to the pot. This cash, plus a further £1100 raised over the the platinum jubilee weekend, will be distributed among a variety of local groups and good causes.

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