The Lonach Gathering and Games is an iconic event that attracts thousands every year – and for Lauren Johnston the chance to be involved was too good to pass up.
Lauren, from Alford is getting ready for today’s events which begins at 7.50am with the march of the Lonach Highlanders departing Bellabeg.
As secretary of The Lonach Highland and Friendly Society, Lauren is involved in much of the organising of the historic gathering and games, which take place every year on the fourth Saturday of August at Bellabeg Park, Strathdon.
The 180th gathering is due to happen today, and Lauren who is in her second year in the post, is looking forward to the day’s events.
A busy schedule
The role has been a bit of a learning curve for her, but Lauren’s background working in events has stood her in good stead.
She had previously worked at Country Flavours of Alford, which co-ordinates and caters for weddings and other events.
Lauren, who has two young children, was looking at her options for going back to work, and really missed working in events and the organising that comes with it. Having regularly attended Lonach when she was younger, when the post of secretary came up, she decided to go for it.
Running her own business as a virtual assistant, offering social media, marketing and administrative support for small businesses, as well as her work as secretary means she has a busy schedule.
Milestone year for society
It’s no small task to organise something as spectacular as Lonach.
As Lauren explains: “It literally starts from when the games finish.” And it’s not just the games, there’s the society’s AGM, as well as public appearances by the Lonach Highlanders also.
There’s a packed programme of events to enjoy today from piping competitions to Highland dancing and the heavy events – including caber tossing, and the light events.
While the march of the Lonach Highlanders earlier in the day is a sight to behold, anyone who has been at the games previously will know that later in the day when they march around the arena followed by the massed pipe bands is also something worth watching.
The games can see crowds of between 8,000 to 10,000, and this year looks set for a decent crowd also with ticket sales for the seated area nearly sold out as of earlier in the week.
Established in 1823 by Sir Charles Forbes, 1st Baronet of Newe and Edinglassie, the society is marking a special milestone this year, and going into today’s event that is something which adds to the excitement.
As Lauren said: “We’re looking forward to celebrating the 200th year of the society. We’re hoping everybody’s in good spirits, and that we get a good crowd and hopefully the sun shines!”
For more information go to lonach.org