Orienteering athletes and enthusiasts will return with fond memories of the Scottish 6 Days held in Moray two years ago – this time, however, they will be joined by most of the finest athletes in the world when the World Championships for their sport are held from July 31 until August 7 in Moray and the Highlands.
The main focus for thousands of spectators and athletes in the opening days of the Championships will be at Forres, where the first events for a competition that will attract a world-wide television audience of millions are being held.
As in previous major sporting events held in the UK over recent years, at the heart of the competition organisation will be several hundred volunteers – amongst them Douglas Ross, who can be found officiating at Scottish domestic or European football matches when he is not acting in his capacity as a Moray Councillor.
Councillor Ross said: “I was only too happy to volunteer for WOC2015 and to urge my fellow councillors and everyone else in Moray and the Highlands to do all they can to ensure this world-class event runs as smoothly as the Commonwealth Games did in Glasgow.
“Scotland has shown that when it comes to organising major events our people are the most welcoming in the world. I’m confident that the people of Moray and the Highlands will prove this once again.
“I was delighted to receive support from everyone at Moray Council when I tabled a motion of support for the World Orienteering Championships. Moray is ready to help make this an event to remember.”
Last week Moray’s Corporate Director of Education and Social Care, Laurence Findlay, visited Greenwards Primary School in Elgin where he acknowledged the work being done by Scottish Orienteering at grass-roots level.
A BBC Alba television crew rolled up to the school to learn feature how several hundred pupils from throughout Moray have been coached in basic Orienteering skills in an initiative led by Scottish Orienteering Development Officer Mike Rodgers.
Mr Findlay said: “We are delighted to be hosting part of the World Orienteering Championships. We all know that Moray is a great place to live, to work and to bring up families.
“We think that anything that showcases this area as a great place to hold major tournaments and we hope that other organisations will consider coming to host an event in Moray.”
The business world has also been assisting with the Elgin Rotary Club sponsoring the Orienteering initiative in Moray’s schools. Graham Milne from Elgin Rotary Club said: “Get them young, let them have fun and introduce them to the sport is the aim.
“They may leave the sport for a while but they can come back to it because they will still have the skills they have learned, the inherent skills of team-working and understanding what it is all about are motivations that will stay with them. Even if they do not orienteer it remains something good for them to have.”
Helping to coach at Greenwards was Scotland and UK International Murray Strain, who said: “The enthusiasm by primary and secondary children in Moray and the Highlands for Orienteering has been great to see, they have been very quick to grasp the finer points of the sport.
“Most of all they realise that it is a lot of fun – it is always a pleasure to visit and I’m confident that the legacy of the World Championships being held in the Highlands this year will last for many years to come.”
Moray Schools Orienteering BBC Alba Report