Wednesday, 27th June 2018

Lonach Teams Up With
National Kids Initiative To Go The Extra Mile

The Lonach Highland and Friendly Society has teamed up with the founders of a ground-breaking health initiative to bring a new event to this year’s Lonach Highland Gathering and Games.

Organisers of the annual Aberdeenshire spectacle have joined forces with The Daily Mile to hold a Daily Mile event for primary age schoolchildren at this August’s gathering.  The afternoon event is being arranged in conjunction with Active Schools Aberdeenshire and aims to give children attending the day-long celebration of Scottish heritage an opportunity to clock up their daily mile in front of an audience of thousands.

This year’s Lonach Highland Gathering and Games takes place on Saturday, 25 August in the Aberdeenshire village of Bellabeg, with The Daily Lonach Mile being scheduled to start at 12:30.  The Daily Lonach Mile is open to all children that will be of primary school age on that date and is free to take part in.  It is hoped that as many children as possible will join what is believed to be the first Daily Mile held at a highland games.


The Daily Mile is an initiative that was established in 2012 by Elaine Wyllie while she was the head teacher at St Ninians Primary School in Stirling as a way to improve the fitness of pupils.  In addition, the programme helps to increase their concentration levels, in turn benefitting their schoolwork.


The scheme has become a huge success nationally.  It is now part of the daily curriculum in over 4,400 schools across the United Kingdom and has been placed at the centre of the UK government’s strategy to fight childhood obesity.  National broadcaster ITV and chemical company INEOS have both recently become supporters of The Daily Mile.


Participants will complete The Daily Lonach Mile in the event’s main arena.  To add a sense of occasion to proceedings they will be led into the arena by a local pipe band.  Expected to take around 15 minutes to complete, The Daily Lonach Mile will end just before the Lonach Highlanders march into the arena at one o’clock to officially open the 177th Lonach Highland Gathering and Games, bringing to an end their six-mile march round the local area.

The Lonach Gathering was first held in 1832 and today features a packed programme over 70 events that run throughout the day.  Activities on the games field commence at 10:30am with the piping competitions, before the light and heavy athletics, and highland dancing begin at noon.  A number of local pipe bands will perform throughout the day to entertain visitors, who can also browse around 70 trade stands selling a range of produce.


Children from far and wide are expected to take part in The Daily Lonach Mile, as the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games attracts visitors from throughout Scotland and the United Kingdom, as well as internationally.


Jennifer Stewart, secretary and chief executive of the Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, said: “The Daily Mile has been a huge hit throughout the country and we are excited to bring it to this year’s Lonach Highland Gathering and Games, particularly in the Year of Young People.  What better surroundings in which to do a Daily Mile than amidst Strathdon’s stunning scenery, in fresh Aberdeenshire air and with a crowd of thousands cheering everyone on.


“Children and young people have long been an important part of the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games.  They are the future generations that will continue to uphold the long established traditions that we and other Highland Games hold dear, so it is important that we encourage them to be involved in as many ways possible.  Alongside The Daily Mile we have a number of other competitions that children can take part in which are free to enter.  These range from piping and highland dancing competitions to children’s races and pillow fights.”

This year’s Lonach Highland Gathering and Games takes place on Saturday, 25 August.  Featuring the march of the Lonach Highlanders – believed to be the largest body of non-military men to carry ceremonial weapons in Britain – the annual event draws thousands of visitors from around the world to the small Aberdeenshire village of Bellabeg.


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