In a day filled with glorious sunshine, smiling faces and plenty of laughs, cast members of Emmerdale mucked in for a charity event in Inverurie.
Crowds of enthusiastic fans flocked to the Aberdeenshire town today to give a warm north-east welcome to visiting Emmerdale stars.
Arriving on a vintage bus, the soap celebrities were waved and cheered into Garioch Sports Centre in sunny Inverurie.
Cast members posed for a few selfies and piper photos before getting ready to face a busy day of activities – and all for a good cause.
The cast of the Leeds production are visiting in support of The Big Bash Scotland.
Through this, they are helping raise money and awareness for local cause Urological Cancer Charity (Ucan).
Formerly known as the Emmerdale Extravaganza, the event was an idea hatched between good friends events organiser George Walker , former Emmerdale boss Tim Fee and Chris Chittell, better known as Eric Pollard in the ITV show, 22 years ago.
Since then, celebrities and crew have travelled from Yorkshire to Aberdeenshire and Northern Ireland nearly every year.
From 2001, the events held have raised over £2.5million for charity.
This morning, the soap stars went head-to-head with local sporting teams. Each individual they played had raised money for Ucan through various fundraising events.
Smiling faces galore
Taking part in activities such as badminton, table tennis and football, celebrities and locals alike gave it all they had.
Some even resorted to using “dirty tactics”.
Natalie Ann Jamieson who plays Amy Wyatt went up against the Inverurie Locos football team.
“We won,” she said. “We did some dirty tactics, it was good.
“There were some very good players so what I would do is I would stand in front of the good ones and then distract them, that was a good tactic.
“I love meeting and greeting people it’s like one for the best things we get to do in our jobs.
“Especially people just come up to us with smiling faces because they love Emmerdale. It’s such a nice thing in life to have people come to you with a big smile on their face.”
Miss Jamieson had previously visited Inverurie in March with fellow cast member Ash Palmisciano and visited Ucan’s base in Aberdeen.
She added: “[Back in March] We actually went to the hospital as well. It’s amazing I hope we raise lots of money for them because they’re doing some good stuff up there.”
‘Delighted’ stars supporting local cause
On the football pitch, Tina, 50, and Darren Lawrie, 49, stand with a Ucan bucket on the floor taking in the laughter and sunshine.
Although Mrs Lawrie loves the soap and has been “fan girling all day”, their real passion lies at their feet.
Last year, the Bridge of Don couple’s lives changed after Mr Lawrie was diagnosed with penile cancer.
“It was a massive shock,” he said. “But I’ve got a saying ‘it is what it is’. There was nothing I could do about it apart from get it treated and looked after.
“Just the support of the charity, the surgeons and everyone have been absolutely brilliant.
“They looked after me brilliantly. Even now they’re there asking how you are.”
They have since raised £6,500 for the charity with Mr Lawrie’s story being shown at the charity ball tonight.
Looking out at the event, Mr Lawrie said: “It’s good that Emmerdale have made the time to come up.
“They’re just like us. They’re just normal people, very approachable. It’s just a delight that they’re here supporting the charity.”
Bringing the ‘buzz’ to the town
Later on in the day, cast members went into the town to visit local businesses and meet and greet fans in the area.
Returning to the north-east for the first time since Covid, organiser George Walker OBE said they chose to hold the event in his home town this year.
Helped run by volunteers from Inverurie Events and Inverurie BID, Mr Walker said they wanted to get the businesses behind the charity.
Each of the 20 businesses taking part raised a minimum of £1,500 for the good cause. They were then visited by cast members in the afternoon to encourage people to visit the local businesses.
Mr Walker added: “Retail is having such a hard time so what we wanted to do was bring people into the shops.
“It’s just great, there’s a great buzz around the town.
“But also the cast genuinely like the people of the north-east because they get such a welcome.
“It couldn’t be better. Everybody is happy, everybody is enjoying themselves.”
Businesses such as Loganair and local companies have also donated prizes for a charity auction at the Big Bash Ball tonight where 300 people will be attending.
Two U Have Talent winners, chosen by cast members, will also be performing at the event.