Linlithgow was brought to a standstill last week as 750 children converged on The Cross to have a wee dance - but it was all in a good cause.
At 1pm on Friday, May 16, thousands of schoolchildren from across the world joined together to take part in a Glasgow 2014- inspired dance, created specially for the unique event by members of Scottish Ballet.
And Linlithgow’s primary school dancers did themselves proud as they took part in the Commonwealth Games Big Dance Pledge, with the largest gathering in Scotland.
The schoolchildren from Linlithgow Academy, Linlithgow Primary, Linlithgow Bridge, Westfield, Low Port, Bridgend, Winchburgh, St Joseph’s, Springfield, Torphichen and Donaldson’s School proudly marched down Kirk Gate to the rousing tunes played by piper Ben Miller from Linlithgow Academy, holding aloft their banners proclaiming their adopted country.
The event, which ran in conjunction with the Linlithgow School’s Cluster G)ames opening ceremony, stopped the public in their tracks - literally, as Police Scotland closed off roads for safety reasons.
The event kicked off with retiring Academy headteacher David Mackenzie introducing the 100-strong choir from schools throughout the cluster led by music specialists Susan McWhirter, Alison Sharp and Lorraine McNinch. This was followed by Linlithgow Primary’s ukulele band.
Lord Provost Jack Adair then welcomed all schools who were representing different Commonwealth countries, before reminding us of the motto - Humanity, Equality and Destiny, and that the Commonwealth Games are known as the friendly Games.
Scottish golf champion, Stephen Gallacher took time out of a heavy schedule to present every school with a Commonwealth cherry tree to mark the occasion, much to the delight of both children and many parents who queued up for autographs.
Lesley Malone, West Lothian’s cluster schools PE organiser, who was one of the driving forces behind the event, said: “What an amazing day - one to be remembered for a very long time. It was hard work, but to be honest, very enjoyable.”
It’s was a bitter sweet moment for Lesley, who, after 38 years in PE is retiring this year, but not before going out with a bang. She has been chosen as one of the Commonwealth games Queen’s baton runners.
Constituency MSP Fiona Hyslop has congratulated the schools and pupils involved in Friday’s event. In her role as Culture Secretary she has been instrumental in the roll out of the Big Dance as part of the Commonwealth Celebrations in Scotland and abroad.
Commenting after the event, Fiona said: “It was wonderful to see so many young people excited to take part in in the Commonwealth School Cluster Games opening ceremony and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the Schools’ Choir. I was proud of the young people of Linlithgow and their energy and enthusiasm, and a big tribute for organising the event should go to the amazing Mrs Malone who quite rightly drew a huge cheer from the crowd in this her retirement year.”
“The teachers and pupils from schools across the Linlithgow Cluster have worked extremely hard to put this together to celebrate the Commonwealth Games later in the summer and I was delighted to be there at the Opening Ceremony to support their event.”
West Lothian Council’s Provost, Tom Kerr said: “What a wonderful day and it was a privilege to have been asked to participate. To watch the children from every primary school in the area March down from the Palace into the Cross to the sounds of what must be one of the youngest pipers ever - but boy could he play- filled me with pride.
“This bodes well for the Cluster Games sports day on June 2, which, I am certain will be as successful.
“I was as stunned as many others were watching hundreds of schoolchildren take part in the Big Dance, the choreography was amazing, and how they managed to get them all to synchronise in time was a massive