Editorial: Youth festival that deserves rock-solid support – and can Forres outdo Trento?

The weekly opinion of the Editor on topical events affecting Moray.

If you build it they will come - or we hope they will!
If you build it they will come – to the Wall of Rock

ONE OF THE LAST jobs I had to do before closing down the STV Local websites that were the predecessor to insideMoray was a highly enjoyable one.

That was handing over a cheque of £3000 to the Lossiemouth Youth Café as organisers of the most ambitious and far-reaching youth music festival in Scotland, the Wall of Rock.

Several years later then it saddens me greatly to have to post a report that the festival is in danger of not having a future – indeed, of not taking place at all this year despite a strong line-up of fantastic young acts ready and willing to perform.

People do grumble about modern-day health and safety requirements – but like them or not, they are there and for good reason. Alas they also add a massive financial burden on public events such as this, events that already face large costs for technical equipment, security and infrastructure that would make even a large conglomerate blink.

Sadly the Wall of Rock could well become just another casualty of the intense and increasing financial pressures we are all facing. While the signs are that recession may be just about over its effects are still hitting hard.

Here at insideMoray we are inundated with news features as more and more appeals are launched – not one of them is unworthy of our attention, but I am sadly quite well aware that a few will fail to reach their goals.

When I was asked by STV to name a deserving group in Moray for possible funding from the annual STV Appeal, I had little hesitation in nominating the Wall of Rock – the cash that came from that helped keep the festival moving for a couple of years.

But as purses continue to tighten organisers are now having to turn to the Moray public for help. I really, really hope this one works for them – no group of dedicated Moravians deserve it more.

Comparing Forres and Trento – really?

Until a couple of months ago I was proud to represent the World Orienteering Championships to the media and attempted to distract Scotland’s sports journalists in particular from their football, golf and rugby obsessions.

I believe that to an extent at least I was successful – placing a fair number of articles where orienteering was not a priority before and even helping to convince the BBC that this was an event worthy of their attention, resulting in live coverage from the championships when they open up in Forres and then throughout the Highlands from July 31.

In the end I left the job because it was not possible to do that and the collection of local groups I help to support – not to mention continuing to keep a steady stream of news flowing through insideMoray.

Still, I have a firm belief that these World Championships are a fantastic thing for Scotland, the Highlands and for Moray – but will only succeed if the public at large and media in particular start to take what is happening seriously.

Look at the numbers – athletes from over 50 nations around the world, joined by well in excess of 5000 enthusiasts of the sport also competing over the same courses in the corresponding Scottish 6 Days events.

Reporting on the effect WOC2015 will have on Forres this week I also put up a video of the corresponding event held last year in Trento, Italy – (see it here).

It shows the unique nature of orienteering, competitors charging through the streets of a town with thousands of knowledgeable and just curious people cheering them on – and yet, many more tourists wandering around the course wondering what all the fuss is about!

What other sport takes place against a mixture of such ecstatic support – and utter indifference? What other sport attracts a television audience of millions in many countries and yet is utterly ignored in others?

The streets of Forres are going to provide the backdrop for this amazing phenomenon at the end of this month and the start of next – I just hope that people come out and give it the support it deserves, showing those millions around the world that Moray is a place they will wish to put on their holiday plans.