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Newtonhill and Elrick pupils make history as their design becomes official Aberdeenshire flag

The winning design was chosen from more than 800 entries in the UK's biggest ever contest of its kind!

These creative youngsters have become part of local history by designing the official Aberdeenshire flag.
These creative youngsters have become part of local history by designing the official Aberdeenshire flag. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Five creative youngsters today etched their names in history as they unveiled the design which will forevermore be the official Aberdeenshire flag.

The new emblem was raised up the pole at Castle Fraser during a sunny ceremony attended by scores of locals.

Lord Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire, Sandy Manson, hailed the occasion as a “historic day” for the north-east.

Meryn Wilson, 11, Eliana Irwin, 12, Tristan Davidson, 11, Zara Sim, 12, Iris Main, 11, present the winning design flag to The Lord-Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire Sandy Manson. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

What does the new Aberdeenshire flag look like?

The new Aberdeenshire flag is a mix of purple and gold, with a castle in the middle bearing the image of a crown.

Meryn Wilson, Eliana Irwin, Zara Sim and Iris Main, from Newtonhill Primary School near Stonehaven, came up with the colours and layout.

Sandy Manson raising the flag. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson
The official Aberdeenshire flag fluttering in the breeze at Castle Fraser. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

However, judges took inspiration from Tristan Davidson’s entry to add an all-important finishing touch.

Tristan, from Elrick Primary School at Westhill, had also designed a flag with a castle in the centre – but had adorned it with the crown to represent the area’s royal links.

They were all inspired after receiving visits to their school from Scotland’s top flag expert and Lyon Court Vexillologist Philip Tibbetts as flag fever gripped the region’s pupils.

Flying the flag! The emblem lends the historic castle a splash of colour. Image Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson
Pipers marked the occasion. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Youngsters beat global competition in UK’s biggest ever flag contest

Their entries formed part of a record-breaking contest launched last September, with 820 designs flooding in from all over Aberdeenshire and beyond.

Some were submitted from as far away as New Zealand and Canada.

A panel of judges spent hours looking over the colourful array before drawing up a shortlist.

The Aberdeenshire flag experts gathered at Finzean Hall last autumn. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson
And today the winning children posed for pictures with a dazzlingly-attired Mr Tibbets. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

Over about a month at the turn of the year, more than 4,000 people voted on the winning design.

Since that time, experts have been working on getting the finished product ready.

And it was only this morning (Saturday, April 22) that the five winners learned of their success.

The children formed part of a procession before the flag was revealed. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson
Our photographer ventured to the top of the tower for a unique vantage point. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

What happened at Aberdeenshire flag ceremony?

The pupils, accompanied by proud parents, were “amazed” when they were told the result shortly after arriving at Castle Fraser at 10am.

As they celebrated, the The Gordon Highlanders Association Drums and Pipes warmed up nearby and a group of Lonach Highlanders gathered to discuss their imminent march.

The ceremony was awash with tartan pageantry celebrating all that is special about the historic region. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson
There was a procession bringing the winning flag to the door of the castle. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Eliana, 12, was quick to impress with her local knowledge – telling me there are more than 260 castles across Aberdeenshire.

Tristan added: “I knew this was ‘castle country’, and I wanted to do something for the royal connection too.”

Watch the moment the flag was raised:

Their respective headteachers were also in attendance, agreeing that a design formed from different parts of the county perfectly summed up the unifying emblem.

Huge ceremony to cap off ‘extraordinary project’

Mr Manson opened the event by explaining how the “extraordinary project” took shape more than a year ago.

The Aberdeenshire flag is now the seventh belonging to an individual county in Scotland.

Crowds gathered to take part in the event. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson
Mr Manson addressing the audience. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Flags were dispersed to be raised in Braemar, Fraserburgh, Huntly, Inverurie, Peterhead and Turriff.

After the Reverend Kenneth Mackenzie from Braemar and Crathie Church blessed the flag, the children carried it to the top of the tower.

Three loud cheers of “hip hip, hooray!” rang out over the skirl of the bagpipes as it was hoisted into place.

Job done! Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

Flag a ‘special legacy’ for organiser who died in the midst of competition

However, it was a ceremony tinged with tragedy.

Deputy lieutenant Miranda McHardy played a leading role in the campaign, and was in the midst of organising the unveiling ceremony when she died unexpectedly on Sunday, March 5.

Everyone in the Aberdeenshire Lieutenancy is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of our very dear friend and colleague,…

Posted by Lord-Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire on Thursday, 16 March 2023

There was a special tribute to the “remarkable” 59-year-old, who had three children.

Mr Manson said: “She managed this project from the outset. She ran it superbly, and helped create something inspirational.

“Our new flag will always be part of her special legacy.”

Watch the procession as the ceremony began:

Meet the families who arrived to see Aberdeenshire flag revealed

Leon and Jessica Duncan and Cameron and Oscar Hardie all came from Ellon to watch. Their deputy headteacher designed one of the five finalist flags so they wanted to show their support! Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson
Dad Rob with Grace (10) and Archie (8) McGregor. Rob’s cousin is married to flag expert Philip Tibbets so the family was invited along. They were planning to ask him to explain the design. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson
Maia and Ally McDonald live in Australia but popped along as they’re staying in a house Ally owns near Alford and they’d heard about the big event. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson
Six-year-old Abdulmumeen Abubakar is part of Fraser House at Kaimhill Primary School in Aberdeen so thought he better head along with his mum and dad. Image: Ben Hendry/DC Thomson

The Aberdeenshire flag results

In first place with 1,450 votes (34.46%) was the winning collaboration:

Second place was this creation based on the rivers Dee and Don, with red representing Aberdeen FC and the yellow standing for crops and beaches.

It secured 804 votes, for a 19.11% share.

This flag based on the north-east’s fishing heritage came third, with 699 votes earning it a 16.11% share.

And this flag showing blue for the Dee and Don, green for our arable land and yellow for the sunlight came fourth with 634 votes for a 15.07% share.

And close behind, with 621 votes for a 14.76% share, was this creation largely inspired by the region’s rich agriculture.

WATCH: Aberdeenshire flag competition judges pick designs from ‘record-breaking’ number of entries