Chieftain role was honour for Games stalwart

Forty years after helping to resurrect Forfar Highland Games, octogenarian Alex Webster was on hand to oversee the 2015 event.

Now held in the grounds of Glamis Castle and billed the Strathmore Highland Games, Alex is still on the committee, along with his wife Ethel.

And it has turned into even more of a family affair over the years as Alex’s daughter Muriel Greenhill, son Steven, daughter in law Angela and grand-daughter Lorna Cochrane also serve on the committee!

Alex (80), of Gowanrigg, Forfar, said: “Ethel and I have taken a wee step back now, although we’re still on the committee.

“But we definitely passed on our love of the games to our children and now, in turn, their children.”

It was only fitting then that, when the Earl of Strathmore could not attend this year’s Games, the elder statesman of the Webster clan was invited to be chieftain.

Alex said: “I was overwhelmed to be asked; it was not something I ever envisaged doing but I thoroughly enjoyed the day, as did Ethel.

“We always go to the Games but it was something else being centre stage. We will remember it forever.”

The couple’s three children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren are rightly proud of Alex and Ethel’s role in this year’s event.

Their granddaughter and fellow committee member Lorna Cochrane said: “Grandad is still the backbone of our committee so it was only fitting that he be invited to take on the chieftain’s role.

“You could tell how much he enjoyed himself and we were all so proud of him and gran too. I got all emotional when I saw him taking the salute from the massed pipe bands. It was awesome.”

Alex and Ethel’s involvement with the Games is far more than just a once a year visit to lend a hand though.

The couple were both involved in resurrecting Forfar Highland Games in 1975.

“It all started again thanks to the It’s a Knockout competition, which used to pit teams against each other from all over the north east,” recalled Alex.

“The tug-o-war team got together with cyclist Bill Simpson and we decided to try to resurrect the Games.

“There used to be Games years ago in Station Park but our first event, back in 1975, was held in Lochside Park.”

After several years on the tug-o-war team, Alex – who spent half of his life as a farmer and the other half as a machine operater on the roads – moved on to judging the event and then the heavyweight contests.

He is also a past chairman of the Scottish Highland Games Association (SHGA), serving for three years from 1993 to 1995.

Alex added: “Ethel and I have had a lot of good fun along the way and we’ve met a lot of very interesting people.

“Being chieftain made for a great day too!”