VIDEO: Bothy ballads stalwart claims ‘champion of champions’ title once again

A bothy ballads stalwart claimed his sixth “champion of champions” title at the weekend in front of a sold-out Moray audience.

Joe Aitken beat his four rivals on Saturday night to come out on top with the judges in the event that celebrates agricultural heritage.

The retired farmer from Kirriemuir gave a soulful rendition of Bogie’s Bonnie Belle on the Toonhaal Bothy stage in Elgin.

Yesterday, the performer praised the Moray audience and local Rotary Club organisers for keeping the competition alive for its 36th year.

He said: “I’m an old hand at this now, I’ve been doing them since the 1980s. Elgin is probably the last bug venue now for folk to come and listen, credit has to go to the organisers for that.

“I don’t know what the attraction is. It’s part of our social history though, you get people coming from all over to see them. It’s good to see them being kept alive.”

Mr Aitken qualified for the Elgin Town Hall event after coming out on top in the Aberdeen qualifying competition.

Hundreds of enthusiasts packed the venue at the weekend to watch the seasoned rivals compete for top honours.

The choir from New Elgin Primary School opened the evening with a popular performance before the main event.

Defending champion Hector Riddell, John Dickson, who won at Falkland and Strichen, Geordie Murison, the Keith winner, Shona Donaldson, who won Kirriemuuir and Allan Taylor, who took the Turriff title, were also on the bill, which was judged by singer and past winner Scott Gardiner and broadcaster Margaret Bennett.