Stirling Highland Games marked its return to a live event by hosting new world records and becoming the first Games to sign up to the Armed Forces Covenant.
Four world records – for shot put and hammer throwing – were broken by the Wounded Highlanders team of injured military veterans competing in Stirling’s adaptive heavyweight contest.
And Stirling Highland Games President Matt McGrandles was proud to commit to the Covenant and be awarded the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Bronze Award by the Highland Reserve Forces and Cadets Association (HRFCA).
He and his team are now looking forward to planning the 2023 Highland Games which take place on Saturday August 19.
Mr McGrandles said: “We enjoyed a fantastic day and it was a good recovery Games for us as we returned to our first in-person event since 2019.
“More than 4,000 people came along for a day packed full of activities and experiences and my volunteer team were superb at handling everything.
“We’re always proud to host the Wounded Highlanders who compete in our adaptive heavyweight competition and it was amazing to see them smash four world records and really thrill the crowds with their skills on the day.
“We were also honoured to sign the Armed Forces Covenant and pledge to embrace employment opportunities for veterans in recognition of their service.
“We’re the first Highland Games to sign up and hope more high-profile events will follow our lead as the type of jobs which veterans train for mean they are committed, enthusiastic and can work to deadlines – and that’s exactly what we are looking for in the events sector.”
The HRFCA’s Employer Engagement Director Roy McLellan was delighted to present Mr McGrandles and this year’s Chieftain Ali McGrandles with the Bronze Award and Armed Forces Covenant plaque at the Highland Games.
The Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Bronze Award is granted to employers and organisations as an acknowledgement of their pledge to support the Armed Forces community. From there, they can work towards Silver and then Gold status.
Mr McLelland said: “We had a wonderful day at Stirling and were pleased to see the organisation become the first Highland Games to sign the Covenant.
“By doing this they will not only help the Armed Forces community but also encourage more people and companies to participate and learn more about what we do.
“We were also delighted to watch and sponsor the adaptive heavyweight event which was made up of military veterans so the day really was a win all round for us.”
Meanwhile, the team of five men and one woman from the Wounded Highlanders – the UK’s only adaptive Highland Games team – enjoyed a successful day at the Games.
Between them, they achieved four world records including a new Scottish shot put record for the organisation’s Chairman Jim Holborn who founded the team in 2019.
He previously set the world shot put record in his category (Para-Standing Neuro/Muscular) and this year extended it by nearly two feet after throwing an impressive 31ft and 11 inches.
Scottish-based athlete Trish Lawson gained two world records in the women’s shot put and hammer events while Mark Bonner set a new light hammer record in his category with a throw of 71ft and one inch.
The Wounded Highlanders, who train at The Power Bar gym in Sunderland, have been campaigning for more inclusivity for people with disabilities at Highland Games events and Mr Holborn was thrilled by the welcome they received from the Stirling crowds.
He said: “All six of us trained hard for the Stirling Games and we’re pleased with our results and overjoyed with the reaction of the crowds who were amazing.
“Our competition was held quite early in the day so I wasn’t sure how busy it would be but it was actually jam-packed with people watching us and loudly cheering away.
“They particularly enjoyed watching our athlete David Dent tossing the caber three times from his wheelchair.
“We will definitely be back next year and we can’t thank Matt and the team at Stirling enough for giving us a platform to show what people with disabilities can do.
“It’s good for our team to have the chance to compete and for the public to see an adaptive games and we hope to receive invitations to compete in other Highland Games in the future.”
For more details on Stirling Highland Games, visit www.stirlinghighlandgames.com