Ben, Euan and Shannon set to pipe up at area’s premier event
A one-off pipe band contest in May 1972 laid the foundations for a West Lothian institution that has lasted more than 40 years.
The contest in May 1972 proved so successful that a committee was formed with a view to hosting a bigger and better event the following year.
Thanks to their hard work, the first official Bathgate Highland Games took place in 1973.
The pipe band contest was joined by Highland dancing competitions, solo piping contest and heavy athletics events to create the unique celebration of Scottish culture that we all know and love as Highland Games today.
It officially became West Lothian Highland Games in 2009 to reflect the fact the event had grown into a celebration for the whole of the county, taking place on the last Saturday in May every year.
West Lothian attracted some of the top pipe bands in the UK as home of the British Pipe Band Championships for 11 years, before hosting the prestigious European Championships in 1990.
This enviable reputation led to a successful bid to host the British Pipe Band Championships in 2013 and for the following three years.
This year marks the first year that organisers have combined the highland games with the British Championships in one new larger location in Bathgate’s picturesque Balbardie Park.
West Lothian Highland Games has a deserved reputation as a great family day out with something for everyone and this year’s promises to be the best yet.
Three local youngsters, members of West Lothian Schools Pipe Band, will compete at the championships.
Looking forward to making their debut in the premier grade for juvenile bands are Ben Miller and Euan Crawford from Linlithgow and Shannon Gould from Westfield.
Ben and Euan are pupils at Linlithgow Academy, while Shannon attends Armadale Academy.
The schools pipe band was promoted to the premier juvenile grade after being crowned champions of champions 2014 in the novice juvenile grade.
Confidence among band members is running high as they also enjoyed success at the BBC Traditional Music Awards 2014 when they were named “Pipe Band of the Year” as a result of an excellent competition season.
Specially priced family tickets are on sale for the event which brings together the British Pipe Band Championships and the Calor Scotland West Lothian Highland Games in one day at one fantastic venue.
A family ticket which would normally cost £27 is currently on sale for £20. A family ticket admits two adults and two children.
Individual ticket prices are as follows – adults £12; children £5; under fives receive free admission; family pass (two adults and two children) £27.
Parking on site is available on a first-come-first-served basis at a cost of £5.
The British Pipe Band Championships will be contested by 134 bands while the Highland Games features Highland dancing, the veterans’ hill race and traditional heavy events like tossing the caber.
A variety of other family attractions including an opportunity for under 16s to win one of two free iPads, cookery and photographic workshops and demonstrations will ensure there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
The new venue in Balbardie Park provides easy access and plenty of parking.
There is also a free shuttle bus to transport visitors from the railway station to the event.
Alex Linkston, chairman of the organising group, said: “The British Pipe Band Championships has developed over the past two years as a standout event in West Lothian, while the West Lothian Highland Games has been a family favourite for many years.
“The two events staged in one day and in one fantastic location will be the biggest and best event in the area this year.
“Visitors gave both the 2014 and 2013 events a score of 9.2 out of a possible 10 for overall enjoyment.
“This year we are grateful to Calor Scotland for supporting the event.
“I urge everyone to put the date in their diaries and get the family together for a great day out.”
This year’s Chieftain, Alistair Todd, General Manager of Calor Scotland in Grangemouth, said: “It is a real privilege to be Chieftain of West Lothian Highland Games, especially this year when the Games come together with the British Pipe Band Championships in the third and final year the Pipe Band Championships are being held in Bathgate.
“I am delighted to be playing a key role. I am a keen supporter of Highland Games but this will be my first time as Chieftain.
“I am really looking forward to the experience and hope I can live up to everything that’s expected of me.”
Tickets are available from Howden Park Centre, Livingston, via www.howdenparkcentre.co.uk or call 01506 777666.
More information is available at the website www.bathgate2015.com or email [email protected]