In 1998 I attended the “Atholl Highlanders Ball” in the Ballroom of Blair Castle, Blair Atholl, Perthshire. Traditionally this is held the evening before the Atholl Gathering. Christine Lacey was judging for me at the Gathering that year and we chatted about the Castle. Christine remembered the Atholl Dancing Festival was held in the Ballroom one year and thought it had a great atmosphere for Highland dancing. She also said to date nothing was arranged to celebrate the Board’s 50th anniversary. Through this conversation, the idea for Millennium Champions Challenge to celebrate the SOBHD’s Golden Jubilee took seed. Firstly I had to convince my committee (the Atholl Dancing Association) then I had to convince Marjory Rowan, Billy Forsyth and the Board that we could make a success of the event. With Billy’s help grant applications were successfully made so before long the event organisation was up and running!
The world-wide dancing community embraced the idea, as did residents in the Atholl area of Scotland, with many donations of all kinds offered. Malcolm ApplebyClasp photo was one of those residents. (Malcolm is now the foremost gun engraver in the United Kingdom, and his famous Raven Gun is housed in the Royal Armouries. His many commissions include the engraving of the orb on the Prince of Wales Coronet, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes Trophy for De Beers, the 500th anniversary silver cup for the London Assay Office and a major silver cup and cover for the Royal Museum of Scotland. Malcolm also made the seal for the Victoria and Albert Museum and was commissioned to make the silver centre piece for the New Scottish Parliament. He also has examples of his work in many collections throughout the world.) We were obviously in good company! It was Malcolm’s suggestion that he design, produce and hand engrave a gold brooch and call it the Atholl Clasp. If we raffled the original then that would cover his cost. This we duly did. He allowed his design to be used as the artwork for medals and created the silver gilt, silver and bronze clasps for the over-all winners. He also suggested that the Atholl Dancing Association use the art work as our logo.