Cowal Highland Gathering celebrates Chieftain news - Cowal Highland Gathering
24th - 26th August 2017

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Cowal Highland Gathering celebrates Chieftain news

Cowal Highland Gathering (CHG) will boast one of the UK’s most successful business figures as its ceremonial figurehead for the foreseeable future.

Nick Ferguson CBE, former chairman of Sky plc, has accepted the invitation to be the event’s Honorary Chieftain on an ongoing basis.

For the last few years the CHG has had a different Chieftain every year - all high profile individuals with a connection to the Cowal area - ranging from The Rt Hon Lord Robertson of Port Ellen to actor Martin Compston to Argyll and Bute’s Provost Len Scoullar.

Nick – who has lived in Argyll for many years and is recognised nationally and beyond for his philanthropy as well as his business achievements - stepped into the role for the first time last year, and has now agreed to be the Cowal Highland Gathering Chieftain on a more permanent basis.

The news was welcomed by CHG Chair Ronnie Cairns, who said he couldn’t think of a more suitable person to take up the role. “Nick is someone who invests in Argyll and its people in every way possible. He is a passionate supporter of the area, and is always looking for opportunities to share his knowledge and expertise with the local community,” he added.

“His record in helping local people reach their full potential and trying to make this a better place in which to live and work is second to none, and he has rightly been recognised for his tireless efforts in this regard.

“As one of the UK’s most high profile business figures as well as a local resident and champion of the region, Nick is the perfect choice as our Chieftain. His appointment for last year’s event was met with universal approval by our friends and sponsors.

“The enthusiasm Nick showed for the Gathering before, during and since then has been second to none and we are very grateful to him for all his efforts to support what is Scotland’s premier family-friendly Highland Games.”

Ronnie explained that at the last CHG Board meeting it was agreed to reinstate the Honorary Chieftain as a permanent position, which it always was until a few years ago. It was the Board’s unanimous decision that Nick be invited to take up the role.

“We are obviously delighted he has accepted, and look forward to many years of the Gathering’s continued success with Nick at the ceremonial helm,” he added.

Nick is Chairman of Savills plc and former Chairman of Sky plc, SVG Capital Plc (where he was also CEO) and Schroder Ventures, which became Permira. He is also a member of the Board of Maris Capital, and Chairman of Alta Advisers.

Closer to home, Nick is Chairman of the Argyll and Bute Economic Forum - a private, public and voluntary sector partnership dedicated to driving forward economic change in the area.

He and his wife, Jane, are also leaders in philanthropy, and received the ‘Beacon Award for Place-Based Philanthropy’ in 2013.

In 2003 Nick founded the Kilfinan Group, a group of senior business people who provide free and informal mentoring to chief executives of charitable organisations. He is also former Chairman of the Institute for Philanthropy.

Argyll has always been a key focus of his efforts. Nick and Jane’s Kilfinan Trust aims to benefit young people and the elderly in Argyll and Bute.

They also have a programme of interest free loans for entrepreneurs who create jobs in the area and they part-finance the Argyll College Construction and Engineering Centre in Lochgilphead.

Each year, the Trust provides scholarships to 12 students from Argyll and Bute to help them attend Edinburgh University, from where Nick graduated in Economics. He also has an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Nick said he was honoured to be asked to take on the CHG Chieftain role – which involves accepting the salute from the massed bands as well as presenting the trophies in the prestigious Highland Dancing and Pipe Band competitions - on an ongoing basis.

“I enjoyed every minute of my role as Chieftain last year,” he said. “I was of course already familiar with the event and its various attractions, but being fortunate enough to witness them from the best seat in the house was an incredible experience.

“I am delighted to be asked to continue in the role, particularly given the importance of the Gathering not just to Dunoon and the surrounding area but to Argyll and Bute as a whole.

“This is a major opportunity for our region to showcase what it has to offer. Thousands of people from elsewhere in Scotland, the rest of the UK and right across the world flock to the area to experience the Gathering’s special atmosphere, and many of them leave time either beforehand or afterwards in which to explore other parts of Argyll and Bute while they’re here.

“Many of these people will be so impressed by the welcome they receive and the unique beauty of the region that they return again in the future, often multiple times. The Gathering is therefore a key contributor to the success of the local economy not just over the last weekend in August but in the longer term as well.

“My wife Jane and I are very proud to call Argyll and Bute ‘home’, and I’m honoured to be Chieftain of such an iconic and important event. I will be doing everything I can to ensure that the Gathering continues to go from strength to strength in the future, and look forward to being at the heart of the action as it continues to cement its reputation as one of the best events in Scotland’s calendar.”

The Board has agreed with Nick that should there be years in which he is unable to attend the Gathering, he can either nominate someone to represent him or – should he prefer – the Board will nominate someone on his behalf.

This year’s Cowal Highland Gathering runs from Thursday 24 – Saturday 26 August. For information or to book tickets, please visit the Gathering’s website at www.cowalgathering.com or contact the event office by emailing info@cowalgathering.com or phoning 01369 703206.