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Dingwall Academy present ‘poignant’ Kirsteen MacLennan Memorial Quaich for the first time


By Iona M.J. MacDonald

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Dingwall Academy school captains Caitlyn Heggie, Ruaraidh Drennan who was also awarded the Kirsteen MacLennan Quaich, Isabelle Rose, Zak Fearn and Isla Sutherland. (Not pictured: Samuel O'Hanlon). Picture: Dingwall Academy.
Dingwall Academy school captains Caitlyn Heggie, Ruaraidh Drennan who was also awarded the Kirsteen MacLennan Quaich, Isabelle Rose, Zak Fearn and Isla Sutherland. (Not pictured: Samuel O'Hanlon). Picture: Dingwall Academy.

Dingwall Academy pupils saw the “poignant” inaugural presentation of a new award in the memory of the much-loved late Gaelic musician, Kirsteen MacLennan.

On June 12, Dingwall Academy came together for their annual prize-giving event to mark the end of the school year.

The prize-giving was presented by guest speaker Garry Sutherland, alongside members of staff set to retire from the school, including: biology teacher Sue MacKenzie, business and computer education teacher Birgit Mackie, chemistry teacher Jimmy Maxwell and Elaine Murray.

However, the “most poignant part of the evening” came when it was time to present the Kirsteen Maclennan Memorial Quaich for the first time.

Conductor Kirsteen MacLennan (née Menzies). Picture: Callum Mackay.
Conductor Kirsteen MacLennan (née Menzies). Picture: Callum Mackay.

Gaelic conductor, singer and teacher, Kirsteen Maclennan passed away last October, aged 49, after a 15 month battle with cancer. Kirsteen’s musical talents won her countless esteemed awards, but according to loved ones her greatest gift was “her generosity of spirit” that made her both an inspirational teacher and friend.

Headteacher of Dingwall Academy, Karen Cormack said: “The most poignant part of the evening came with the inaugural presentation of the Kirsteen Maclennan Memorial Quaich. This will be presented every year to the most outstanding musical solo performer and the first recipient was school captain Ruaraidh Drennan.

“The school are indebted to Mrs Maclennan’s husband for donating and presenting the Quaich.”

As the first recipient of the quaich, Ruaraidh is already making his mark in the Scottish trad music scene. Last April, Ruaraidh played his third year with the prestigious National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland (NYPBS).

While he is set to begin studying aero mechanic engineering at Strathclyde University, Ruaraidh also has plans to set up a ceilidh band with his friends to put on gigs in Glasgow and earn money whilst studying.

Dingwall Academy pupils Finlay Edwards with the 2024 Dux Medal, and Eilidh O'Mara with the Proxime Accessit medal. (Not pictured: Elizabeth MacGregor, recipient of Proxime Accessit medal). Picture: Dingwall Academy.
Dingwall Academy pupils Finlay Edwards with the 2024 Dux Medal, and Eilidh O'Mara with the Proxime Accessit medal. (Not pictured: Elizabeth MacGregor, recipient of Proxime Accessit medal). Picture: Dingwall Academy.

The Ross-shire academy’s prize-giving evening also saw the presentation of the Proxime Accessit Awards to Eilidh O’Mara and Elizabeth MacGregor, as well as the 2024 Dux Medal to Finlay Edwards.

Guest speaker at the prize-giving was Garry Sutherland, who is retired from the police and founder of The Higher Ground. Mr Sutherland encouraged the pupils to be the best version of themselves possible, and to always be proud Highlanders.


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