Gigha Children’s Festival: focus on fun, friendship and fairness

Gigha pupils cheerfully welcomed visitors to the two-day children's festival.
Gigha pupils cheerfully welcomed visitors to the two-day children's festival.

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Youngsters on Gigha made fun, friendship and fairness the focus when they hosted their first children’s festival in the grounds of Achamore Gardens.

The project, funded by the Creative Wellbeing Fund, through Creative Scotland and Education Scotland, enabled the schoolchildren to work with arts organisation Starcatchers to imagine and invent a two-day festival.

Last Saturday, the front lawn of Achamore House was bedecked with bunting and banners and filled with fun, family-friendly games and activities.

There were lots of different games for youngsters to enjoy.

More than 100 visitors were welcomed to join in table games, circus skills, face painting, planting seeds, arts and crafts and storytelling.

The atmosphere was buzzing with positivity and happy engagement.

Festival guests enjoyed making their own pizza lunch thanks to Box of Delights Catering, and everyone had an enjoyable time tucking into delicious Wee Isle Dairy ice-cream, sweet refreshments in the tea tent and the children’s own home-made lemonade.

Grey skies did not dampen anyone’s enthusiasm for joining in the activities and getting into the festival mood, and it was great to see a large and intergenerational crowd interacting in such a friendly way.

Islanders welcomed children from other schools to enjoy the event.
Islanders welcomed children from other schools to enjoy the event.

‘We are so grateful to the team at Achamore Gardens, our hosts Per and Monica Ostlund from Achamore House, Fyne Homes, The Scottish Salmon Company, Tesco and The Scottish Book Trust for their generous contributions to this event,’ said Mari Wilson, chair of Gigha Primary School’s parent council.

Julie Wilson, the school’s head teacher added: ‘This project started as a way for our Gigha children to experience planning, creating and hosting an event for their friends and for families who live in other parts of Kintyre.

‘They have missed this experience so much during lockdown, and the period of Covid restrictions has left them feeling isolated and a bit forgotten.

‘Welcoming guests and visitors to their island makes an extremely important contribution to their sense of belonging, pride in their community and positive mental health.

‘Our whole community has stood behind them in this venture and we are all so proud of their creativity, leadership and sense of fun.’

Gigha children also hosted a children’s festival schools’ day the day before the main event, on Friday June 10, and were joined by children and staff from Rhunahaorine, Glenbarr, Clachan and Achahoish primary schools.

The focus of the festival was on fun, friendship and fairness.
The focus of the festival was on fun, friendship and fairness.

Gigha young reporters Archie Walker and Mark Dennis said: ‘We hosted our games stalls at the festival and there were games such as a bottle stall, how many sweets in the jar, a pineapple shy and a lucky dip. At the entrance, you could buy four games tickets for £1.

‘We had a great lunch of pizza, ice-cream and home-made lemonade which we made the day before for our friends to enjoy.

‘We did a really big outdoor painting, took part in a drumming workshop and watched a singing performance.

‘All the schools had worked on something to bring and it was brilliant watching their music and performance art and looking at their models and paintings.’

Clachan and Achahoish head teacher Lucy Blake described the event as ‘a really creative day of learning’ which has inspired her schools to continue with creative wellbeing.

‘The children and staff from both Clachan and Achahoish had a great day and returned home exhausted – and painty!’ she said.

‘It was a day to remember; we really had the festival feeling. We very much appreciated all the hard work that had gone into the day.’

Catriona Brown, head teacher at Rhunahaorine, said it was a ‘wonderful’ experience that her pupils ‘loved’.

Now they have the festival bug, islanders, including children, would like to establish a bigger international children’s festival on Gigha in the future and will be looking to secure significant funding or sponsorship for a biannual event promoting creative wellbeing for all ages.