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VIDEO: Tears of pride and joy as singers scoop up gold

Rachel Walker from Lochaber and Alasdair MacMhuirich who comes from Islay are still celebrating after striking gold at the Royal National Mod in Lochaber.

The two solo singers won the top accolade – the Mod gold medal – after an “outstanding” competition on Wednesday night at the Nevis Centre in Fort William.

Ms Walker, 41, who stays at Gairlochy near Spean Bridge, was actually born south of the border, but started to learn Gaelic when she moved to Kinlochewe in Wester Ross.

Singers shine to take home silverware galore

She said: “I was born in Salisbury, but we moved north when I was five.

“I learned Gaelic in primary school and competed in lots of local Mods when I was younger.

“This was my fourth attempt to try and win the gold medal and I am just so delighted and relieved that I have finally succeeded.”

The talented local lady also plays the piano and teaches music courses both at West Highland College UHI in Fort William and at the National Centre for Excellence in Traditional Music in Plockton.

Her husband, Andrew Stevenson, is also a musician and plays the pipes in the popular band Skippinish. Their children, Flora 12, and Seumas, 10, both sing and play the chanter. Ms Walker also provided the musical material for a presentation by Scottish Natural Heritage at the Mod.

Alasdair MacMhuirich’s parents, Linda and Duncan, who run a farm on Islay, were proud and relieved when they heard his name called out as the winner of the men’s gold medal.

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Mrs MacMhuirich said: “I was so nervous beforehand and it was such a relief when he won.

“A friend who was sitting next to us just burst into tears.

“I didn’t cry then, but I was more emotional the next day.”

Alasdair, 21, said: “It was amazing to win, but it hasn’t sunk in yet. I expect it will, though, over the next few days.”

As well as his success in singing competitions since he was a youngster, Mr MacMhuirich is also well known in farming circles for his herd of blackface sheep.

“I’ve taken them to quite a few shows including Kintyre and Mallaig and they have done quite well,” he said.

But Mr MacMhuirich will be starting a new job at the Clydeside Distillery in Glasgow on Monday, so his sisters, Catriona, 25 and Julie, 33, will be keeping an eye on his flock for him.

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