Youngsters join event to create a flag for Skye

Broadford pupils were joined by flag expert Philip Tibbetts and Keith MacKenzie from the West Highland Free Press in preparation for entering the competition to design a flag for Skye. Photo credit: Willie Urquhart – WHFP.

Pupils at Skye schools have been learning all there is to know about flags in preparation for entering the competition to design a flag for the island.

Edinbane, Knockbreck, Kilmuir, Elgol, Broadford, Portree, Bun-sgoil Ghàidhlig Phort Rìgh, Macdiarmid and Staffin youngsters were all due to hear presentations from Phillip Tibbets, honorary vexillologist with the Court of the Lord Lyon, who was on the island as part of the project to create the Isle of Skye’s first official flag.

The Court of the Lord Lyon is the body responsible for recording and protecting all heraldry, flags and national symbols in Scotland. It was approached by the West Highland Free Press, Highland Council ward members and tourism body SkyeConnect with the idea for a flag – following the example of several other island areas and mainland regions which have in recent years adopted their own flags.

A competition began last week inviting designs, with local school children being especially encouraged to take part.

When Mr Tibbets visited Broadford Primary School recently the youngsters were full of ideas as to what a Skye flag might contain.

Primary seven pupil Alex McKinstray reckoned the colours black, yellow and purple might feature – symbolising the sun above the Cuillins.

John Reeves Womble, in primary six, suggested fish and birds could be represented, while he thought blue “for the sea and coastline” was likely to be a prominent colour.

Isabella Langlands, a P7 pupil, thought the flag might have to recognise the island’s fickle weather. “I’d maybe have something to represent the rain. But I think shinty might feature too,” she said.

Mr Tibbets, who has helped organise competitions for several areas to create their own flag, said it was common for a school pupil to come up with the winning design.

Entrants are advised to use no more than three basic colours to come up with a flag that should be simple, yet symbolic of the place and people it represents.

After talking to pupils from Elgol, Kilmuir, and Edinbane he said a few themes had begun to emerge.

“The Winged Isle, the Misty Isle and the sky itself have all cropped up,” he said, “and birds seem to have been a popular symbol.

“However, the potential for both the design and subsequent usage of a flag for the island is incredible.”

The competition to create a flag for Skye will run until 1st December, after which a panel – made up of representatives from throughout the community – will compile a shortlist of final entries which will then become the subject of a public vote in February.

The final flag design will be unveiled in March, after which it will become a freely-usable symbol for all to display and associate with the Isle of Skye.

Keith MacKenzie, West Highland Free Press journalist and director, said: “Skye is home to 10,000 people but it is famous the world over. Given the island’s beauty, history and rich and living culture there should be no shortage of ideas to inspire a flag.

“The WHFP is delighted to have kick-started this search for a flag which all Sgitheanaich, and anyone who loves the island, can proudly fly and display.”

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