The first official flag for Skye has been unveiled after a year-long search for the symbol to represent the island came to an end with a nine-year-old native’s design taking the crown.
A small group of socially distanced guests attended Portree’s Nicolson Memorial today as the flag was unfurled and raised for the first time by winning designer Calum Alasdair Munro from Kilmuir.
The youngster, who has a passion for collecting flags, said he drew his inspiration from the island’s history and heritage as his design trumped the other 369 entries.
A panel of representatives from the island whittled down the 369 entries, of which more than 200 came from school children, down to just six, which members of the community were able to vote upon as their choice to represent the Misty Isle.
Calum’s design has drawn on a Birlinn, a wooden boat used in the Hebrides in the middle ages, as well as incorporating the rich clan history of the MacLeod’s, MacDonald’s and MacKinnon’s – the first clans on Skye.
He said: “I thought about the Celtic Heritage, the Viking heritage and the history of Flora MacDonald. In my flag, in the Birlinn, there are five oars representing Trotternish, Waternish, Duirinish, Minginish and Sleat.
“I thought about yellow for the MacLeod’s and Blue for the MacDonald’s or the MacKinnon’s.”
The flag had been initially due to be unveiled in March, however, was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Calum was entrusted with raising the flag after being sworn to secrecy ahead of today’s unfurling.
He said: “I was feeling very happy, but I haven’t told any of my friends in school.
“I have just told Granny. She was very happy.”
The process has been guided by the honorary vexillologist with the Court of the Lord Lyon, Philip Tibbets.
Mr Tibbets said: “This Skye flag is a testament to engaging the creativity of the community itself.
“The design not only meets heraldic best practice but puts a unique and new spin on a traditional style – and in so doing combines the Scottish, Gàidhlig and Norse heritage of Skye.”
Competition organisers West Highland Free Press have begun producing flags of the winning design which is hoped to be flown by local businesses.
All proceeds from flag sales will go to Skye and Lochalsh Young Carers.
Keith Mackenzie, editor of the West Highland Free Press, said he is delighted with the result and the high level of local engagement.
Mr Mackenzie said: “It is a tremendous design but the other thing that struck people is what it meant. It pulls together so many elements of Skye.
“There are notes to Christianity, there are notes to our Celtic heritage, to our Nordic heritage, to the Clans.
“And also, the colours themselves reflects Skye as a jewel of Scotland.
“We thought it was important, right from the outset, to engage as many people locally as we could.
“The people who came up with the idea and launched the competition were from Skye, the vast majority of the entries came from Skye, the voting was from people on Skye or associated with Skye and we have a local winner as well.
“People may like or dislike the flag but I don’t think anyone can argue against the process of finding the design.”