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WATCH: Forres Platinum Jubilee celebrations finish perfectly with a Picnic in Grant Park


By Garry McCartney

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Late afternoon at Grant Park on Sunday.
Late afternoon at Grant Park on Sunday.

HUNDREDS enjoyed an afternoon of Jubilee fun and games at Grant Park on Sunday.

Forres Community Activities Association (FCAA) and partner volunteer groups including Forres Community Council and Forres In Bloom (FIB) organised 'Picnic in the Park' in celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee, scheduled to coincide with Jubilee parties across the UK.

Bright, warm weather helped to attract a sizeable crowd from lunchtime, entertained by performances from Forres and District Pipe Band and the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, as well as demonstrations from Forres Taekwon-do Dunbar Blackbelt Academy and children's games run by 1st Forres Scouts, all of which happened within a sectioned-off area of Forres St. Lawrence Cricket Club's pitch.

The Scouts proudly flew a Jubilee flag donated by Forres Highland Games as many families enjoyed their picnic spreads.

First Aid demonstration.
First Aid demonstration.
The judges (right) deliberating.
The judges (right) deliberating.

Following a rescue demonstration from the First Aid Service, six children took part in a fancy dress contest with a historical theme: Aila Spouge (7) dressed as Frida Kahlo ; Rosie Spouge (4) was Cleopatra; Zander Frank (2) went as Buzz Lightyear; Willow Fraser (1) was Jessie the cowgirl; Paige Burgess (6) was Dr Elizabeth Blackwell (first woman on the medical register of the General Medical Council; and Noah Wilson (5) took first prize as King Arthur.

Alan James choosing King Arthur, AKA Noah Wilson, as winner.
Alan James choosing King Arthur, AKA Noah Wilson, as winner.

Judges Alan and Ainsley James complimented all of the contestants (and their parent helpers) and found it difficult to choose a winner.

Alan said: "It was a small group but of a very high standard."

Ainsley added: "There was a great variety of costume. The historical characters were easily recognisable!"

A demonstration from the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.
A demonstration from the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.

Forres RSCDS impressed the crowd, dancing a Jubilee Jig and Queen's Platinum Jubilee Stramash, created by local instructor Kate McArdle.

Master of Ceremonies, Jane Johnston, added: "Beginners classes re-start on September 12 at the town hall. New members are welcome for fun, fitness and friendship!"

Forres Taekwon-do Dunbar Blackbelt Academy Ninja group for 4-6-year-olds.
Forres Taekwon-do Dunbar Blackbelt Academy Ninja group for 4-6-year-olds.

Dunbar Blackbelt Academy instructor Maree Mcdonough was thrilled to show the park attendees what her young pupils can do.

She said: "It was a fantastic day for our students to showcase their Taekwon-Do skills. They will look back on supporting the community event while celebrating the Jubilee with pride."

She added: "Our students train twice-a-week, starting at 4-years-old, learning skills such as balance, co-ordination and teamwork in a fun, structured environment. This allows them to develop self-respect, mutual respect, courtesy and discipline."

A Forres Taekwon-do Dunbar Blackbelt Academy demo'.
A Forres Taekwon-do Dunbar Blackbelt Academy demo'.
Approaching the finish line.
Approaching the finish line.

Children's games organised by the scouts included tattie, sack and skipping races, as well as an obstacle course, all for prizes donated by local companies.

The tug-of-war between 1st Forres Scouts and Forres and District Pipe Band.
The tug-of-war between 1st Forres Scouts and Forres and District Pipe Band.

A tug-of-war followed between representatives of the pipe band and the scouts - the result was two-nil to 1st Forres Scouts!

Kathleen Robertson inviting everyone over to the big unveil.
Kathleen Robertson inviting everyone over to the big unveil.

With the help of Wave Radio, Moray Council leader and one of the chief organisers of Forres' Jubilee events, Kathleen Robertson, gave a speech to thank the volunteers who helped to make the event such a success.

She also introduced Moray's MP Douglas Ross, and Lord Lieutenant, Major General Seymour Monro, who were invited to plant commemorative trees and unveil a new carving in the garden area of the park.

Lord Lieutenant, Major General Seymour Monro, addressing the crowd on a Wave Radio mic.
Lord Lieutenant, Major General Seymour Monro, addressing the crowd on a Wave Radio mic.

Maj Gen Monro said: "It's been a joy to be here to see the best pipe band in Moray!

"But we should remember we are here to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. Our monarch has done so many wonderful things for the country over her 70 years. She is an outstanding leader and a great example to us all, and the Jubilee events have been a great morale booster.

"The queen loves Moray and has visited many times, not least because her sons were pupils at Gordonstoun.

"She really has done us proud which is why the communities of Moray have pulled together as always to hold so many local events in her honour."

The Ross' hard at work encouraged by Maj Gen Monro.
The Ross' hard at work encouraged by Maj Gen Monro.

Guided by Forres In Bloom and ably assisted by his young son Alastair, Mr Ross planted a number of trees as part of nationwide tree-planting campaign, The Queen's Green Canopy.

Major General Seymour Monro, Kathleen Robertson and Alan James.
Major General Seymour Monro, Kathleen Robertson and Alan James.

Maj Gen Monro then unveiled a "magical, mystery beastie", a unicorn carved from wood.

FIB secretary Sandra Maclennan explained: "Maj Gen Monroe planted an oak tree to match the one he planted for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee 10 years ago.

"Mr Ross - and star gardener Alastair - planted trees he had obtained for Forres five years ago for the Queen's 65th Anniversary. The trees were very small when they arrived so FIB grew them until they were of suitable size to plant out. Alastair stole the show with his delight and expertise at weilding a spade!"

A section of the audience during the first act of the end-of-afternoon concert.
A section of the audience during the first act of the end-of-afternoon concert.

The afternoon came to an end with a rock concert organised by music tutor and musician, Ewen Watson.

He said: "The atmosphere was great! The acts, James Kennedy, Dave Levon, Tom Morris, MacTa and The Zebecks certainly delivered and everyone who came seemed to have a good time.

"Picnic in the Park was a fantastic family event with a really good turnout. After a couple of years without any community events, I think everyone really appreciated the chance to be a part."

He added: "It was great to hear that people enjoyed it, so if there's a demand, we can certainly look into doing another one."



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