The search to find an official flag for the Isle of Skye took a step closer last week as a panel of community representatives met in Portree to draw up a final shortlist from the remarkable 369 entries received for the competition organised by the West Highland Free Press.
Over 200 Skye school pupils submitted designs, while entries were also received from all over the world – including from India, France, Australia, Denmark and several from the USA.
On the shortlist panel, the WHFP’s Keith MacKenzie was joined by local broadcaster and historian Cailean Maclean, Skye councillor John Finlayson, arts producer Shona Cameron, head teacher and Skye area schools group committee chair Mhairi MacDonald and Alistair Danter from the island’s destination management organisation Skye Connect.
Lord Lyon, who is responsible for recording and protecting all heraldry, flags and national symbols in Scotland, and Philip Tibbetts, Honorary Vexillologist with the Court of the Lord Lyon, travelled north to oversee the process.
After several hours of deliberation, the panel was able to agree on a shortlist of six flag designs, which will go forward for a public vote to determine the winner.
The designs and competition details will all be revealed in next week’s WHFP which will be available to buy on Thursday 13th February.
Panel member Shona Cameron said: “I was really impressed by the variety of designs and by the creativity – especially from the primary school pupils from throughout the island. They showed real ingenuity and their designs connected with what Skye meant to them, using great colours and iconography.
“I thoroughly enjoyed it. We had to be ruthless in our selection process, but I think the ones on the shortlist are very strong.”
Lord Lyon said: “I’m delighted to be on Skye, and we have seen some great applications. The young folk in the primary schools deserve a big thank you for their efforts. Lots of their ideas were quite stimulating.
“There’s been a continuous application by different groups and people throughout Scotland to have their own flag.
“It gives communities their own design, that they have worked on and they have chosen.
“As we live in an environment where local identity can easily be lost, this gives an opportunity for folk to take some of that ground back and reflect that identity in their flag.”
Article by Keith MacKenzie and photographs by Willie Urquhart.