I returned to Abernethy when I retired in January 1994. Soon after I received an invitation to attend the Williamson Hall Management Committee AGM. To my surprise I left the meeting as Chairman with Dick Thorman as Treasurer. I continued as Chairman for 8 years
The previous Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary had stood down en masse.
I quickly realised the committee were responsible for running the Gala.
Gala events covered a whole week, but with the support and encouragement of practically every village organisation we set about planning.
We received generous sponsorship from village businesses and individuals as well as raffle prizes from businesses from as far afield as Dunkeld and St. Andrews.
I soon realised the Gala was a village occasion to be run and enjoyed by the whole community.The Bowling Club, Masons (Treasure Hunt) and the Tower Singers (Concert and BBQ) were all involved during the week.
On Gala day the different organisations involved were SWRI (teas); Church (cake and candy and bottle stall); Horticultural Society (plant stall); WRVS (hot dog stall); Scouts (setting up, car parking and games); Guides (tentage, face painting and supporting the Gala Queen) and Play Group (games).
There is no doubt in my mind that without the Scouts and Guides, Gala would not have happened. The Scouts delivered Gala programmes to every house and were the labour force setting up the arena.
The most financially successful Gala was the day the event was nearly washed away, I think it was 1998.
It started to rain heavily while setting up and just got worse as the day went on.
The Gala opened as usual, the parade led by the Comrie Pipe Band, the band had only just dried out from the previous weekend when they were at the Blackford Games, despite the weather there was a reasonable attendance.
Gala evokes special memories. For me the most enjoyable occasions were the 5-a-side football competitions in the Powrie park with the BBQ organised by the Tower Singers.
The most spectacular event was the aerobatics display by a biplane and the freefall parachute demonstration by the Army in Scotland was also spectacular.
The discos were very educational, the under 12s were so energetic, while there seemed to be more activity outside the Hall than in, with the under 16s.
Whisky curling at the Gala dances always got very competitive with guests throwing 50p coins for a bottle - it was a great money earner.
The Hill race always provided keen competition with the most outstanding performance from David Wotherspoon who won the under 12 section on five consecutive occasions. David is now a professional footballer with Hibernian and has represented Scotland with the under 19s team.
In recent years Gala has continued to evolve, Gala Day now reflects a greater commitment by a younger element in the village and it is good to see so many recent “incomers” being involved.
Now I really enjoy wandering around Powrie Park without any responsibility.
Good luck to all involved this year.
Let us hope the weather is good.