Flying the Flag
At an early date the Sailing Club played their part, as constituent members of the Lochcarron Sports Association, in promoting the Highland Games. It was 1990 when we first took a stand at the Games, recognising that it was a useful showplace for the Club. We could also join the other clubs of the village who used their stands to coax funds out of the punters.
A Mirror dinghy and an inflatable dinghy provided talking points. Roger Coppock produced a quiz sheet, but it produced little profit. Much more lucrative was a competition throwing ten-pence pieces to land near a whisky bottle. After an hour or so, the winner was presented with the bottle and a new game was started.
In May 1991, Roger Coppock was involved with a Forestry Commission open day at Balmacara. He persuaded the Club to take a stand to provide entertainment, and to gain publicity for the Club. An Aunt Sally game was arranged knocking small mock-up boats off a stand – ‘Sink-the-boats’. A return of £60 almost justified our taking part. A TV presenter used the Mirror dinghy, which we had on display, as a prop, sitting in it as she described our exhibit.
In July 1991 at the Lochcarron Highland Games we repeated the same arrangements but with two Mirror dinghies on display. We made a bigger splash with information on the Club and application forms. We recruited our hundredth member, the Shiffner family, with a holiday home in Kishorn, taking the membership to 104. The takings from ‘Sink-the-boats’ reached nearly £100, junior members doing noble work throughout the afternoon.
Between these two events, on the 6th of July 1991, the Club arranged a truly maritime event, but with a publicity view. Try-a-Boat Day was also great fun for the members. From 10.45 a.m. through most of the day cruisers took boatloads of visitors for a trip round the loch. The Lochcarron Fundraising Group provided teas from a caravan on shore, raising funds for Highland Hospice.
The Club was again at Balmacara in May 1992, but at £41.70, the return from ‘Sink-the-Boats was disappointing.
For the Try-a-Boat day on 11th July 1992 only one cruiser, Peggotty was available. Many of the customers were taken out in the Mirror dinghies, the Coppock’s Skipper 14, an inflatable and a fibreglass dinghy. The Fundraising Group again provided teas from a caravan on shore, the proceeds going to the Highland Hospice.
In 1993, The Try-a-boat day in July suffered from poor weather – there was a limited turn out of craft and customers. A day or two earlier, Alex Ingram used a camcorder to record an interview with Chris Matheson and his mother, for TV presentation. He added shots of the occasion itself. The 1994 event was a washout. The event was cancelled before it began on account of the wet and windy weather.
At the Highland Games the established pattern was repeated in subsequent years, Sink-the-Boat, or the coins and a bottle game being responsible for incomes which became less and less satisfying.
In 1995, attempts were made to raise the profile of our fundraising. Interest was generated with a scheme organised by Dave Sproule – a fishing competition/best fishy tale. There was not much contribution to the funds. Another of Dave’s ideas, guess the weight of a fish drew £40. Luckily, Highland Fish Farmers donated the fish. We were on to a better scheme as the Sports Association wanted a local club to take over the tea tent. The club took £202.72, although there was some expenditure to be deducted.
In subsequent years, the tea tent has absorbed the Club’s main effort at the Highland Games. Receipts shown in the accounts have reached £400 and over in 1997, 1998 and 1999, again less some expenditure.
New money making ventures were introduced. Dave Sproule designed a ‘wiggly wire’ game for 1996. Doug Angus evolved a sail hoisting competition for 1997. These did not redress the balance. The sideshows at the Club’s stall only took £27.90 in 1998.