The three Shetlanders who took part in the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony have said it was an amazing experience.
Kathryn Spence, 21, James Watt, 21, and Heather Gordon, 22, were involved alongside 349 other volunteers aged 18 to 59 in the closing ceremony show last Thursday, performed to 60,000 spectators at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and an estimated one billion people on TV worldwide.
The performance by Scottish volunteers, which included people from each of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, took three weeks of preparation and rehearsals in a “boot camp” style setting in Glasgow, which the three young people said was a great experience and lead to making lots of friends.
While in Glasgow, the group of volunteers were housed in Glasgow’s Euro hostel before flying out to Delhi last Tuesday.
They spent the first of their three weeks of boot camp learning some basic choreography and getting used to the teaching style, before taking the next two weeks learning and practising the steps for the final show.
James said: “I had such a wonderful time, the last three weeks have been amazing and the people there all became really good friends, almost like a family.”
Much of the time in India was spent practising. James said the cast had very little opportunity to see the country, snatching glimpses of Delhi while being shuttled from their hotel to the venue, but said what he did see of the city, with its poverty and wealth living side by side, was “surreal”.
The volunteers were housed in a luxury five-star hotel, with all the facilities you would expect, such as a pool, gym and spa.
James said: “The staff were falling over themselves to do things for you, the amenities were amazing and beyond anything I’ve ever seen before.”
All the practice was then put into place for the eight minute show. Scottish imagery, including pipers, tartan, and inflatable models of the Loch Ness Monster and the Glasgow “armadillo”, or SECC building all featured, and were chosen to represent the connection to the next Commonwealth Games, which takes place in Glasgow in four years time.
The performance began with a lone piper entering the stadium, before the cast members performed a Highland charge and launched into their choreographed performance in which inflatable shapes and 1.8km of colourful tartan were used to create well known Scottish images.
The music featured traditional tunes and pieces specially composed for the event, as well as songs from Scotland’s seemingly preferred musical export, The Proclaimers.
The show received glowing praise from the press, with one reviewer from The Times of India stating of the Scottish representatives: “In less than 30 minutes, they left an impression with their energy, vibrancy and giant props that all but stole the day.”
James, who arrived back in Shetland on Monday morning, said the whole experience was “absolutely amazing”.
He said: “It’s by far the best thing I’ve ever done in my life, it was just amazing.”
He and the girls were part of the “fabric cast”, which involved creating a saltire and other shapes with huge folds of the tartan fabric, which Kathryn said was more difficult than the pictures would have you believe.
She said: “It was really quite physically demanding, the fabric was quite heavy – it doesn’t look that heavy in the pictures, though.”
Kathryn also performed a Highland dance along with a group of other volunteers who were specially selected for the trip on their dancing experience.
She said performing in the show was “amazing” but the size of the venue and the amount of people there made it quite a surreal experience.
She said: “I couldn’t really comprehend it, it was surreal. It was brilliant, everyone got on really well and we made loads of friends.”