The skirl of bagpipes echoed across a north-east village despite its Highland games being cancelled due to Covid-19.
The committee of Aboyne Highland Games gathered to mark what should have been the village’s games day last weekend.
Traditionally, the first Saturday in August sees the Royal Deeside village come to life with dancing, piping and athletics events as crowds of up to 10,000 people attend Aboyne Highland Games.
This year, however, the event – like others across the country – was cancelled due to the pandemic, but organisers were still keen to mark the day.
It was the first time since 1945 that the Aberdeenshire games had been cancelled, and it is believed to be the only peacetime cancellation in the event’s 153-year history.
In a socially distanced ceremony 40 members of the committee assembled on Aboyne Green, venue for the games, to watch the chieftain’s banner being raised by chairman Alistair Grant to the strains of ‘Games Day At Aboyne’, which was played on the bagpipes by Dr Jack Taylor.
They also judged an online piping competition with 32 contestants from Scotland, America, Canada and New Zealand among those performing.
Chairman of Aboyne Highland Games, Alistair Grant, said: “Raising the chieftain’s banner on an empty Aboyne Green on what should have been games day was rather poignant. Although it was a difficult decision to make months ago to cancel the 2020 Aboyne Highland Games, it was the correct one to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing.
“Choosing to lower the banner to the recently composed piobaireachd ‘Salute To The Frontline’ showed our gratitude to those who have kept everyone safe and well, and vital supplies moving around the country during recent months.
“Although nothing can take away from hearing the pipes live at a highland games, I’m very pleased that we were able to run some of our piping competitions online and provide a platform for solo pipers to compete. We are extremely grateful to Jack and his team for making this happen and to all those who took part.
“The whole committee is very much looking forward to August 2021 when Aboyne Highland Games will return live, bouncing back just as it did after two world wars. We will be ready with a warm welcome for competitors and spectators, showing them the spirit of friendship and community for which highland games are renowned.”