The weekend of 18th and 19th August saw the Society represented for the first time at Schotse Dagen, an annual festival of Scotland in Belgium, taking place at the historic Ferme d'Hougoumont, the key strategic site of the Royal Horse Artillery's battery, on which the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo turned.
This is a full scale Highland Games event, attracting heavy athletes from all over the world and pipers, dancers and pipe bands from the length and breadth of Belgium. Visitors travelled from all over Western Europe - we even met one couple from Romania - keen to discover something of Scotland's cultural context and what our country has to offer.
Courtesy of our Belgian member, Chevalier Tom Hye, one of the principal organisers of the event, the Royal Celtic Society provided one of the key features of the event this year. Under the title Royal Celtic Society Initations, we had the opportunity to provide visitors with introductions to five seminal aspects of Scottish tradition. Taking place twice on each of the two days, these talks and demonstrations were a big hit with the visiting public, with each of them full to capacity.
Kiltmaker Moira George, of Soy Kilts in Portsoy, Banffshire, provided an introduction to the art of kiltmaking. Pipe Major Philippe Vervoort, the leader of one of the most successful pipe bands on the continent, demonstrated the music of the pipes, passing chanters around his audience and giving instruction in the pipes to those who had never played before. Our member Liliane Wembridge, who leads a large and internationally renowned Scottish and Celtic dance group in Belgium and a RSCDS teacher, introduced newcomers to Scottish Country Dancing, a terrific achievement in marshalling over 100 people who had never danced before. Alan Hay, Chairman of the Royal Celtic Society, spoke on the history and development of Gaelic language and culture.
We are grateful to them all for their contribution to this memorable weekend, and especially to Tom Hye whose initiative this was and who made the Society's involvement possible.