Return of our gala days would be very welcome

Kate Livingstone
Kate Livingstone

When I last visited an old friend at her home in England we inevitably began to reminisce about happy times from our childhood.

She was brought up in Mansionhouse Road in Camelon and I would accompany her to the Mariners Day each summer. It was a huge event in the community back then, one that I would look forward to for months in advance.

I would go so far as to say that the only day in the calendar that I got more excited about was Christmas day, which is appropriate as we would always be given a new outfit to wear on the Mariners Day by our parents.

Our trip down memory lane had to take a slight diversion as my friend’s partner simply had no comprehension of what we were talking about.

They had never heard of what we would call a ‘gala day’, the closet thing they had growing up in the Home Counties was a village fete, which we hastily pointed wasn’t the same thing at all.

When I think of a village fete I imagine neatly presented stalls of homemade jam with rosettes pinned to them, with stiff-lipped judges in blazers marching around with clipboards. Gala days are about children and having fun, and it wouldn’t be a gala day unless there was a big parade led by a pipe band, with colourful floats following behind.

It really saddens me that the Mariners Day is no more. More volunteers were needed to keep it going and they just didn’t materialise. And it’s not fair to expect the same faces to do all the work year in, year out.

The late 1990s and early 2000s seemed to be a very ‘me, me, me’ time and volunteering just wasn’t considered cool. But now more people are recapturing their community spirit. I’m delighted to hear this week that moves are afoot to bring back the Denny gala day for the first time in 14 years. Well done to all involved for a great idea, and I hope more people will sign up to ensure it’s a great success.

The Grangemouth Children’s Day is an example to follow. I just hope that the Mariners Day can now undergo a similar revival act.