Highland Games secures new sponsors to keep international gathering alive

28/05/2024
Stirling Highland Games. (Photo: Byron Tilly)

THE STIRLING Highland Games, a historic and much-anticipated annual event celebrating Scottish culture, is set to return this year on Saturday 17th August with support from 2 new sponsors joining their loyal long-term Supporter, Specsavers Stirling. The Highland Games, renowned for its traditional competitions, busy Traders Village and engaging creative arts offering, will be bolstered by a new Adaptive Heavyweights supporter and Track & Field Supporter, ensuring prize funds are covered and planned activities can go ahead.

Support from Leading Companies

Among the funders stepping in to support the Stirling Highland Games this year are Specsavers Stirling, Anatomical Concepts, and Kings Park Hospital. These organisations, recognized for their commitment to community engagement, are providing essential funding and resources that will allow organisers Ceangail, to continue delivering their event plans. Matt McGrandles, Ceangail’s Executive Director said, “I am delighted to welcome both Anatomical Concepts and Kings Park Hospital on board as Supporters of the event this year. This level of support provides the backbone of event funding and through this collaboration, it will allow us to continue delivering these competitions and the many benefits the event brings to the city.”

Anatomical Concepts attended the event in 2022 to see the para-athletes compete in the Adaptive Heavyweights events. When the opportunity to become a Supporter came up, they jumped at the chance to get involved. Their support over these next few years will allow the competition to build on its success. Anatomical Concepts UK Director Carolyn Jones pointed out, “we are proud to support Stirling Highland Games, and particularly the Adaptive Heavyweights Competition. We believe the best work happens when people work together, and SHG is an excellent example of dedicated partners coming together to build excellence in culture, competition and community.”

Carolyn went on to compliment the highland games outlook on inclusion by saying, “The Adaptive Heavyweights is a unique event in the Highland Games calendar, and we want to raise the profile of the sport and the of athletes competing. Over the next few years of our partnership, we hope to increase the number of competitors and attract more spectators to the event so the games committee can continue to provide the same level of competition and prizes as athletes without a disability.”

Kings Park Hospital, a keen supporter of Stirling events, is sponsoring the Track & Field competition, one of several competitions at the Games. Their contribution will ensure the competition goes ahead with entries expected from top athletes across Scotland. ‘’We are delighted to be supporting Ceangail and the Stirling Highland Games this summer,” said Kings Park Hospital’s Executive Director, Elizabeth MacLeod. “It’s great to engage with the local community through this much-loved event, and we’re looking forward to seeing everyone having a great day!’’

Building the Highland Games Experience

The sponsorship from these companies will ease some of the financial burden Ceangail is experiencing as the deliverer of the event. The social enterprise, whose mission is to inspire young people into tourism through its skills connect academy, brings together vocational training for groups of young people and practical learning. With more event suppliers increasing their hire fees, the not for profit will need to be creative on what it can deliver on its budget whilst still providing Stirling with a professional outdoor sporting event. Visitors can look forward to a well-organised event with the usual broad range of competitions, on site traders and creative arts however Ceangail’s Executive Director Matt McGrandles explains that some hard decisions will need to be made in the not-so-distant future. “There is no question that small events are feeling it this year with most suppliers increasing their costs. I think we have seen 4 other highland games fold because of lack of financial security. I think highland Games are caught between a rock and hard place as the event can’t continue to pass on these increased costs to customers through ticket sales. Decisions will need to be made at some point soon about this year’s scheduling, so I can’t thank our current Supporters and Friends enough for seeing the vision we have for the event and getting behind it, but we do need more support.”

Since the pandemic supplier hire fees have rocketed and this year sees a 10-year partnership with Active Stirling ripped up and a hefty £1700 bill to hire the field in its place. “I was certainly disappointed to be told that the Active Stirling Board and Senior Managers at Stirling Council decided this was the right approach. All reasoning has fallen on deaf ears to date, so we did have to increase our entry ticket price slightly to try and cover their costs.”

Community Impact and Future Prospects

The generous support from Specsavers Stirling, Anatomical Concepts, and Kings Park Hospital will allow these competitions to continue with the event having a positive impact on the Stirling community. This year should see a skills connect programme delivered for a group of 20 young people; attract over 300 athletes to compete; place over 5000 visitors in front of up to 50 small business traders; generate over £600,000 for the local economy; and encourage more youngsters to give sport a go in the Community Area if a new sponsor can be found.

Specsavers Stirling have been a Supporter of the Heavyweights competition since 2014 and can share in the many success stories the event brings to the city centre. Matt, who works closely with the Director’s outlines, “Pauline and Julie just get it. They understand that by supporting us, the impact our event has on the city, every year, is a good cause that’s worthwhile getting behind. It’s not just about their business, it’s not just about the event, it’s about all the additional benefits that visitors to the city brings including stay and spend. We are extremely lucky to have such loyal supporters that share our vision for Stirling.”

Join Us at the Stirling Highland Games

The Stirling Highland Games invites everyone to visit Scotland, explore Stirling and experience this International Gathering with its unique blend of tradition and culture. Mark your calendars for Saturday 17th August and come celebrate Scotland’s heritage! The more ticket sales, the better the outlook for both Ceangail and the Stirling Highland Games event in the future.

For more information about the Stirling Highland Games, ticket purchases, and event schedules, please visit www.stirlinghighlandgames.com or contact the Organisers at office@ceagnail.org for more details about their Skills Connect training or sponsorship of the event.

The latest stories