The Chieftain of this year’s Forres Highland Games has been announced as George Alexander.
A well kent face in Forres, George is known to many in his differing roles as local farmer, teacher, Moray Councillor and he also heads up a number of the town’s charities and groups including the Forres Heritage Trust and the Forres Community Activities Association.
George said he was thrilled to have been asked to be Chieftain at this year’s Games which are returning on July 2 after a two-year absence due to the pandemic.
He said: “It’s a real honour and I am delighted to be Chieftain at these Games as they are so very significant after not being able to take place for the last two years. I believe it was only ever in wartime that the Games did not take place, so it’s a real pleasure to be bringing them back after what everyone has gone through since the start of the pandemic.
“Putting on an event like this is no mean feat and the organisers who are all volunteers work so hard to bring a great event to Forres. I am hoping that given the last two years, the local community and hopefully visitors to the town really come out in force to support this wonderful day.”
George (73) has never competed in a Highland Games and doesn’t intend to start now, however, he did have a “fleeting” experience with the heavy competitions as he explained: “I didn’t really have much good luck. I was around 18-year-old and was at an event at Echt in Aberdeenshire and decided to take part in the Cumberland Wrestling. I was drawn against the late Bill Anderson. Those who know the sport will understand that he is described as being Scotland’s greatest ever Highland Games heavyweight athlete. Needless to say, I didn’t win, we just treated it as a training exercise. I have always been of the mind that the taking part is more important than the winning.”
Despite not having much luck in competing, George does have form at being a Chieftain as he was chosen for the role at the first ever Piping At Forres held in 2013.
“It was actually quite amusing,” explained George, “it hadn’t been realised that a Chieftain was required at Piping At Forres, so what shall we say, I was brought in to fill the role. However, that was an honour as well, and given that Piping At Forres went onto be such a huge success, it’s a feather in my cap to say that I was its first ever Chieftain.”
In 2019, footfall at the Forres Highland games increased by 20 per cent and attracted tourists from Germany, Hong Kong, Spain, the USA, New Zealand, Ireland, France and Canada.
Now in the 94th anniversary of the founding of the Games, the event has always been a real international affair attracting participants and thousands of spectators.
In 2019, the Games even attracted a Scottish dance troupe who flew in from Canada and a stag party who enjoyed taking part in some of the Games’ day activities.
Mike Scott, honorary secretary of the Forres Highland Games said he was delighted the Games were returning with George Alexander as Chieftain.
“The Board of Trustees are all looking forward to the return of our annual event with fresh optimism and excitement. George had been unanimously chosen to be Chieftain of the 2020 Games, but of course these were cancelled.
“George has been chosen, as over the years he has made a much valued contribution as a volunteer to the success of our Games. Each year he is on the Games field, sleeves rolled up, getting stuck in helping us prepare for our event and clearing away afterwards.”
Mike added: “We also want to acknowledge George and commend him for all the great volunteer work he has done for the Forres community through his involvement with the European Pipe Band Championships, the Forres Heritage Trust and Forres Mechanics to name but a few.”
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