WICKERS refused to allow the rain to put a damper on their gala curtain-raiser
27th July 2014
They turned out in force for the crowning ceremony and lined the streets in the unrelenting downpour as Queen Katie Dunnett led the traditional procession.
Katie and her court, also equipped with umbrellas did their royal status proud, smiling and waving to the crowds and the young baton twirlers, the floats personnel and the pipe band who didn't have cover, deserve a special mention for weathering the weather.
As the crowning ceremony drew near, gala organisers had hoped that a reported downpour on the west of the county might by-pass Wick, with a light shower, only. But, the ceremonial side of things had not long started when the skies opened.
Introducing the royal proceedings, undeterred, gala committee chairwoman Donna Plowman said that Wickers had a way of pulling together for the gala, year-on-year, and this year's event was no exception. She paid tribute to the town's business sector and her organising committee for their support and commitment. Funds raised were spent on the community and the proposed new playpark which had received a substantial contribution from the Scottish Government was one of their goals. She exhorted local folk to help achieve the financial goal of £100,000.
In her regal address, after being crowned by last year’s queen, Hannah Russell, Queen Katie extended a warm welcome to Wickers and visitors and paid tribute to everyone involved in making the annual event a success.
There was praise too from this year’s guest speaker Professor Ian Baikie, for the royal court, the float patrons and the fancy dress walkers who, he said, had "helped keep this fabulous tradition alive for 60 years".
The Professor reminisced about his float involvement with the gala in his younger days and of how his studies had taken him away from Wick to foreign parts but he always returned for gala week.
He continued: "The warmth of the Caithness welcome I received, made it easy for me to come back and work in Wick and see my children grow up in the fantastic place. I am sure, too that visitors will agree that Wick opens its arms to everyone."
Professor Baikie recalled his involvement in the campaign for a new Wick High School and acknowledged the support he had received but apologised for having "taken the foot off the accelerator" during which the project’s costs rose by £10m. He vowed: “This won’t happen again.”
Professor Baikie concluded with a vote of confidence for the town and said: “The school campus will create 300 jobs over two years. Together with the completion of the town hall and council offices and the transformation developments at our beautiful harbour, we should be upbeat about the future.”