Monster celebration for Nessie's 80th
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ONE of the world’s greatest and most enduring mysteries will be celebrated this weekend when a special boat trip marks the 80th anniversary of the first modern sighting of the Loch Ness Monster.
On 14th April 1933, Mrs Aldie Mackay, manageress of the Drumnadrochit Hotel, spoke of seeing a "whale-like fish" in the loch.
Alex Campbell, a water bailiff at Fort Augustus and part-time journalist for The Inverness Courier, recorded the sighting under the headline: "Strange Spectacle in Loch Ness".
Now, exactly eight decades since Mrs Mackay first made her sighting in the loch, a group of monster buffs will head out on to the loch to raise a glass of whisky to the woman whose sighting sparked a phenomenon that continues to captivate the world.
Adrian Shine, leader of the Loch Ness Research Project and designer of the Loch Ness Exhibition in Drumnadrochit, will lead the excursion, which also includes Edinburgh Fortean Society president Gordon Rutter, Loch Ness investigator Dick Raynor and a number of other Loch Ness specialists.
A single malt, "Superstition", has been specially selected to mark the occasion, along with a blend of port and brandy named "Conviction". Members of the boat party will also enjoy a slice of "Nessie at 80" birthday cake designed and made by Drumnadrochit’s own Cobb’s Bakery.
Although Nessie has not yet confirmed her attendance, she will not be left out of the party, receiving her own beer poured in the loch courtesy of Loch Ness Brewery.
Mr Shine, one of VisitScotland’s "Meet the Scots" ambassadors said: "Even without Nessie, Loch Ness is a place of great beauty and remarkable intrigue, but the first modern sighting by Mrs Mackay was a key date in history, not only for Loch Ness, but for Scotland as a whole."
Malcolm Roughhead, chief executive of VisitScotland said: "It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Mrs Mackay’s sighting of the Loch Ness Monster to tourism in Scotland.
"There are few places in the world where people haven’t heard of the phenomenon and the 80th anniversary is sure to spark renewed interest and encourage even more visitors to come here and see if they can spot Nessie for themselves."
Executive director at Destination Loch Ness Graeme Ambrose added: "Clearly Mrs MacKay’s sighting has had a huge impact on the worldwide perception and tourism potential of Loch Ness. The icing on the cake is that there is even more to this fascinating area beyond the monster, and we know that visitors to Loch Ness are intrigued, inspired and impressed by what they do see."
Today, there will also be a gathering at The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition in Drumnadrochit. where local experts will meet in Mrs Mackay’s old dining room.
Mr Shine will welcome everyone and Mrs Mackay will make an appearance by way of a filmed interview from 20 years ago.
Earlier this week Willie Cameron, of Loch Ness Marketing and Cobbs restaurant and hotel chain held his own birthday party for Nessie at the Clansman Hotel.
Cobbs produced 80 cupcakes and a special birthday cake to mark the occasion which were handed out to visitors at the hotel where a large plastic monster took pride of place.
Recalling the original story in the newspaper Mr Cameron said: "The report in trhe Courier about the strange spectacle in Loch Ness started the ball rolling and the rest is history.
"From the start of tourism, to my mind, there is no greater story in the UK - effectively creating a tourit industry in the middle of nowhere.
"It has become a world wide phenomenon attracting a million tourists a year and worth £25 million to the local economy."