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PICTURES: Duchess of Rothesay officially opens Nairn's splash pad

By Donald Wilson

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THE Duchess of Rothesay was the surprise guest at the formal opening of the Nairn's splash pad today.

The royal visitor had a warm welcome from fundraisers at Team Hamish, who were behind the splash pad plan, plus nearly 1000 people at the Links at about noon.

Although overcast, the weather was warm and pleasant to mark the culmination of four years of fundraising by the local community to commemorate the life of eight-year-old Hamish Hey who died in 2017 after a brave battle with cancer.

Sadly Hamish's mum Susan, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2015, passed away last year before work began on the splash pad which has been a phenomenal success since it was switched on in April.

The Duchess was accompanied by Lord Lieutenant George Asher who presented the British Empire Medal to Hamish's dad Sam and posthumously for his wife, which was collected by Hamish's sister Lily, for all their achievements.

Sam, in his address to the crowd, said it was a "momentous, yet emotional, occasion".

"It's wonderful to see so many of you here today," he said.

He thanked the whole community of Nairn for all the love and support they had shown the family during their ordeal.

"I don't think we had any idea it would have such a far-reaching impact. It's all because of your love and support and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.

"I am sure Hamish and Susan are watching over us today and perhaps somewhere there is a rainbow out there."

Family friend Jean Godden told the crowd the fundraising campaign generated nearly £200,000.

"Susan and Sam along with their extended family founded Team Hamish in May 2017 to create family spaces; places and facilities within Nairn which could be enjoyed by all ages and abilities for many years to come," she said. "The ideas for the community spaces were developed from places that Sam and Susan had either visited, seen, or been recommended to and which they thought would work really well in Nairn, particularly around the Links area of the town."

Sadly, she said a few months after Hamish passed away, Susan found that the cancer she had battled in 2015 had returned.

"Despite fighting with incredible determination throughout treatment, Susan tragically died in May 2020 just weeks before the works on the first phase of the site," she added.

The Duchess, on her arrival at the Links met with Nairn Provost Laurie Fraser, local Highland councillors, many of the volunteers of Team Hamish who helped with fundraising and Hamish's grandparents Danny and Liz Bow.

After the formal opening, the Duchess walked over to many schoolchildren and chatted with them and members of the public who turned out.

Children entered the splash pad and joined in the occasion before her departure.

Sam said later the Duchess was very complimentary about how the community had come together and she was very impressed by what was achieved.

"She spent a lot of time chatting to our volunteers and was genuinely interested in all their fundraising efforts."

Team Hamish now has plans for a second phase of development at the putting green near the splash pad.

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