Thursday, 15th August 2019

Daily Mile Event Under Starters Orders For Return To Lonach Gathering

One of Scotland’s most iconic Highland Games will again play host to a pioneering initiative aimed at improving the health and fitness of its youngest visitors after being successfully introduced last year.


The Lonach Highland Gathering and Games and The Daily Mile have joined forces once again to hold The Daily Mile Lonach at the popular Aberdeenshire event, with the support of Active Schools Aberdeenshire.  A total of 75 children are expected to take part in the non-competitive event and a number of places are still available.  Organisers are encouraging parents and guardians to sign their children up to participate in the event.


This year’s 178th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games will take place on Saturday, 24 August in Bellabeg Park, Strathdon.  Events on the games field get under way from 10:30am and run throughout the afternoon.  A spectacle of the event is the unique march of the Lonach Highlanders, a 220-strong body of men dressed in full Highland regalia and armed with eight-foot long pikes and Lochaber axes.


Prior to their arrival onto the games field at one o’clock to officially open the afternoon’s proceedings, the Lonach Highlanders complete a six-mile march through the local area led by the Lonach Pipe Band.


The Daily Mile Lonach is scheduled to start at 12:30pm and should take around 15 minutes to complete.  A local pipe band will lead those participating in The Daily Mile Lonach into the games arena.


Introduced last year, The Daily Mile Lonach is the first non-competitive event to be held at the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games.  It is designed to provide primary age schoolchildren with an opportunity to clock up their daily mile amidst stunning scenery, while promoting the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle to all those attending.


Last year, founder of The Daily Mile, Elaine Wyllie, was present to fire the starting gun to get the event underway and provided plenty of encouragement to those taking part.  One of those who championed the introduction of the event was Giles Platt, a London-based regional Primary Schools PE and PSHE advisor with family connections to the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games.

Giles’s partner Gill is the daughter of George Gordon, one of the Lonach Highlanders’ flag bearers.  This year George, whose son, two sons-in-law and one grandson are also members of the Lonach Highlanders, will mark 55 years of participation in the march.  The Gordon family can trace their involvement in the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society back to its founding in 1823.


Giles Platt said: “The Lonach Gathering is a fantastic, unique event for all ages and one that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed attending over the years.  Lonach is an integral part of the local community and upholding its history and heritage is something that my partner’s family holds very dear. 


“I’m delighted to have been able to give something back of value to Lonach in establishing The Daily Mile at the gathering, the first Highland Games to host such an event.  The Daily Mile is a simple and hugely successful concept that provides health and fitness benefits.


“Introducing The Daily Mile Lonach to the programme has further promoted inclusion by way of reaching out and increasing children’s participation in the day’s activities through an introductory, non-competitive activity.  It gives children who don’t want to compete in events the chance to get involved in the games and experience the atmosphere, perhaps encouraging them to participate in the future.


“Lonach is also providing an essential platform to promote active, healthy lifestyles to children and young people with an initiative that can be easily replicated within both school and home environments.  Given my working commitments in London, the active support that Lonach committee members have provided, particularly in liaising with key regional personnel, is very much appreciated.  Without their assistance, none of this would have been possible.”


Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said: “Last year’s inaugural The Daily Mile Lonach was a great success and all of the children that took part enjoyed doing so.  They received plenty of encouragement from the crowds watching on and hopefully inspired others to adopt a more active lifestyle.


“The Lonach Highland Gathering and Games has always embraced youth participation, which is important for our future.  Alongside The Daily Mile Lonach we have plenty to keep children entertained throughout the day.  They can participate in the children’s races and pillow fights, which are free to enter, or enjoy the funfair.  We know that for some local children the Lonach Gathering is one of the best days of the year.  It is quite a compliment.”


Parents or guardians who wish their children to participate in The Daily Mile Lonach, which should take around 15 minutes to complete, are encouraged to pre-register. 


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