View Full Version : Wick celebrates as...

24-Jul-11, 16:45
Gala week off to a right royal start

INCREASED food and power bills, cutbacks and the perilous state of the economy...the troubles Wickers have to contend with in their daily lives were sidelined on Saturday night as the curtain went up on their annual gala week.
Even grey skies, a chill wind and threatening rain, couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of town folk. Market Square became the focus of attention as the royal entourage arrived with a sea cadets escort for the traditional coronation, led by pipers.
The proceedings were introduced by gala committee chairwoman, Donna Plowman, who extended a warm welcome to the crowd. Wickers, she said, were noted for the manner in which they pulled together and nowhere was that more evident than in the way they had responded to the “rallying call” when the future of the festival was thrown into doubt after the, long-serving chief office bearers indicated they were standing down, this year.
An appeal for new members resulted in a committee of 22 people being formed and Mrs Plowman commented: “Without the new blood, the committee could not have carried on, and we now have a a large enough membership to provide Wick with many more galas in the years to come.”
She paid tribute to the “tremendous” support from local businesses, the public and other people who had provided facilities and other expertise and added: “We have put together a programme packed with events, some old, some new, but there should be something there for all ages.”
Mrs Plowman then invited last year’s gala queen Angela Gray to crown her successor, Catherine-Ann Crawford.
Her Majesty said that the committee had worked hard to put together the week-long festival and it was now the turn of the public to repeat the support they had shown in previous years.
Queen Catherine-Ann also added: “Let’s have fun and make this year’s gala the best one possible.”
This year’s guest speaker was Caithness General Hospital consultant, Dr Tim Shallcross, who is moving to Elgin. He recalled some of his happy memories of his family’s 20 years in Caithness, interspersed with humour.
He said: “ We would like to sincerely thank all of you who have made our stay up here very enjoyable and rewarding. We would certainly repeat it if we had our time again.”
Turning to the gala, Dr Shallcross said it was great to see it continuing, despite all the problems it had faced in recent years. It had a new chairperson and lots of new committee members and he continued: “On your behalf, I would like to thank them for the enormous amount of time and effort they have given. I was amazed to learn that the gala costs £10,000 to run and that’s despite a lot of donations and free kit such as lorries for the floats and a lot of help and time from local businesses. Ultimately, though, it depends on your support and enthusiasm. The money you give tonight will not only support the gala, but will also go to local charities, so please, dig deep in your pockets and remember you can give notes as well as coins.”
Afterwards, the Royal British Legion, Scotland Pipe Band led a procession of floats through the town.
The queen’s entourage paused at the War Memorial where she laid a wreath, in memory of those who had fallen in their country’s service, in various conflicts.