More than 2,000 people attended yesterday’s second Bermuda Highland Games – and enjoyed pipe bands, traditional Scottish dancing and sports.
A Royal Canadian Mounted Police pipe band and their dancers travelled from Halifax, Nova Scotia, as special guests for the event and Games Chieftain Gordon Ness said: “It’s has gone very well and the games have been really well-organised by the Caledonian Society.
“There seems to be a new enthusiasm for raising the levels of interest in Scottish culture. And the fact that we are bringing in overseas performers like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police pipe band and Canadian Highland dancers is very impressive.”
Bad weather that forced the cancellation of the Queen’s Birthday parade in Hamilton on Saturday morning cleared up before the games officially opened with a march from City Hall to Saltus Field in Pembroke.
Mr Ness, from St George’s, added: “It looked like it was going to be a bad day, but it cleared and it was fantastic.”
Mr Ness said that it was important to preserve and promote Scottish culture – and introduce Bermudians to a taste of Scotland.
He added: “It’s very important – when I first came here, the Caledonian Society was viewed as kind of exclusive, but that’s changed. You can see the number of Bermudians here today.”
RCMP pipe band Drum Major Alan Shepherd, a sergeant in the Halifax criminal investigation unit when he’s not leading his drummers, said: “It’s been tremendous.
“We have been looked after so well and treated very well and the weather has cooperated – except for this morning.”
Pipers and dancers performed around the island before the games, including a series of school visits and a performance at the Hamilton Princess.
Drum Major Shepherd added: “We have been very busy, but every chance we got we got out to the beaches and did some exploring.
“The band has had a blast – they enjoy playing and they are a very good band. I had never been here before and I loved it.”
The grand finale featured the RCMP band, the Bermuda Islands Pipe Band and their dancers and the band of the Bermuda Regiment.
The games ended with a lone piper in the spotlight high above the field, playing Highland Cathedral.
The games were officially opened by Governor George Fergusson, who is Scottish, sporting a kilt in his clan tartan.
Mr Fergusson told the crowds that the links between Bermuda and Canada, particularly Nova Scotia, were long-standing, while Scottish regiments had left a lasting mark on the island, including names like BlackWatch well and Pass, named after the famous Highland regiment that dug a well in Pembroke during a 19th century drought.
The tug o’ war competition featured teams from Government House, led by the Governor, the Bermuda Regiment, the Bermuda Fire Service – and all-ladies’ teams, including one made up of the Canadian Highland dancers.
And the dancers pulled off a surprise victory in the competition, beating Government House in the early stages and the Bermuda Regiment in the final after the soldiers had seen off tough opposition from firefighters.
The girls, however, were allowed to double up, featuring a team of 16 against eight-man opposition.
One embarrassed senior NCO said afterwards: “Dancers’ legs are pretty strong. We’re just going to tell everyone we let them win because we were being gentlemanly.”
Other events included tossing the caber, a road race and shorter races for younger members of the crowd.
And Cerra Simmons, 11, from Sandys, picked up the Viscount Dupplin trophy for the most promising Bermudian Highland dancer. The trophy was donated by Charles Dupplin, former head of insurance firm Hiscox and the inspiration behind the Highland Games.