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Pipe bands set to take shorter route to Nairn Highland Games after committee told cost of traffic management permits for A96 will be £2k

By Donald Wilson

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Games convener Sandra Ross who is retiring after more than 35 years on the committee is disappointed at the change of the grand parade of massed pipe bands.
Games convener Sandra Ross who is retiring after more than 35 years on the committee is disappointed at the change of the grand parade of massed pipe bands.

The grand parade of pipe bands to the Nairn Highland Games is likely to be re-routed this year to save the costs of traffic management on the A96.

The games committee has learned BEAR Scotland, which is responsible for trunk roads, has asked for a traffic management company to be involved in supervising the march down the A96 from Viewfield.

But Secretary Stuart Farrell reported to a meeting of the committee that will cost in excess of £2000 for the permits from BEAR and Highland Council.

He said it was now hoped to have the parade take a shorter route through Viewfield Street and Marine Road which avoids the trunk road.

"Highland Council is OK with that. But we are still awaiting confirmation and permission for the march to take place along the amended route," he said.

The games are back on track for a return this August after two years in abeyance due to the Covid pandemic.

Convener Sandra Ross who will be retiring after more than 35 years on the committee said the change to the grand parade of massed pipe bands is disappointing.

"But we are pleased it will still be a feature of the Games.

"We have been told we now face charges of over £2000 for permits to close off the trunk road and that's just not feasible.

"So we are hoping to take an alternative route to the links so the spectacle continues. The bands will gather as usual at Viewfield and march to the Links through Viewfield Street and Marine Road with members of the public invited to take up the rear and join the parade to the links arena.

"We can also announce we are delighted that Royal Brackla Distillery has renewed its sponsorship of the Nairn Games for the next five years and as well as providing hospitality for our guests the deal provides some financial security for the games to ensure their future.

"We are very grateful to our local distillery for all the support."

Sandra admitted it will be an emotional day for her as she stands down from her role but she was sure everyone in Nairn will be delighted to see the event back.

As well as a coach with Nairn & District Amateur Athletics Club Sandra has been 25 years as athletics secretary for the Nairn Games and 15 years in the hot seat as Convener.

"The committee are busy putting the finishing touches to all the organising that needs to be in place and we are sure Nairnites will be eager to see the return of Nairn Games.

"It's such a special event when we have exiles from near and far making it a date to return to visit family and friends and of course we always have lots of visitors from overseas.

"What's special about the event is it's the only 'free' games in the country combined with the funfair (showies).

"We have a bucket collection and rely on individual event sponsors and income from car parking on the day to keep us going and of course the hard work of our volunteer team.

"We will be presenting a new dancing trophy from the family of Hendrik Ronsch in Germany who's wife Jocelyn sadly died of cancer last year.

Jocelyn (Cameron) was brought up in Nairn and was a dancer at the Highland Games when she was a youngster. The family have been coming to the Games for many years and the committee were grateful to them for recognising her in this way and adding to our collection of silverware."

As well as all the traditional, piping, dancing and heavy events, there will be a packed programme of athletics including kiddies races and the ever popular Nairn Half-Marathon and Nairn exile Lorna Helby Cameron will be hosting a Ex-Pats meeting place at the iconic Nairn bandstand.

"I think unfortunately numbers could be down on the massed pipe bands parade due to Covid. We expect about 120 pipers and drummers but it has been up to 200 in the past. It will still be a very impressive display.

"It will be an emotional day for me I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on the committee but feel the time is right to hand over the reins. But we have a good strong committee who work extremely hard and I have every confidence they will continue to ensure the long history and tradition of the Nairn Games continues."

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