Over Halloween, more than 90 guests attend SANER’s annual event ‘The Gathering’ in the historic city of Stirling at the King Robert hotel, writes Danny Callaghan. It’s on the site of the Battle of Bannockburn (1314), a date most Scots remember when we had a historic victory of the Auld Enemy the English. However this time no skirmishes were reported and our English guests returned home tired, happy but unscathed.
The event saw ghosts, ghouls and witches and pumpkins galore. A real scary sight. The witches were hunted down along the corridors and public areas and I am pleased to report that none were burnt. A tradition at The Gathering is to have a hunt, - it has been haggis and rugby balls before, but witches this time. It is a great way for guests to explore the hotel, clutching the answer sheets - fun to watch too.
Guests listened to a talk about the Battle of Bannockburn by the battle site’s resident expert Dr Callum Watson, followed by an Elvis tribute act who stood in at the last minute due to our Abba group having had a sudden bereavement. Elvis had everyone singing along and the evening was completed by our resident DJ Brian Mathews, then off to bed (or bar) before another full day.
Tuesday started with a lovely breakfast and many guests headed out to explore Historic Stirling, its castle and other attractions. Others relaxed or took part in Mike’s spooky quiz. As evening approached it was time for our guests to get appropriately dressed in best Halloween body and face painting and witches hats and with broomsticks, there were even a few walking pumpkins seen. The evening was rounded off with one of the hotel’s regular acts Roberta Childs performing tributes to such as Diana Ross, Tina Turner and many other, leaving us all with sore throats singing along and sore feet with the dancing. Some lasted to dance the evening away with our disco maestro Brian.
After a morning worship led by Quin and we visited Stirling Old Town Jail for a creepy naked lock-up. Most inmates were released in time for dinner, although some were left in solitary confinement with only bread and water. Our evening saw some ladies in big hats for the Witches Nag Racing. With our uniform nobody lost their shirts though there were a few empty wallets. Thanks to Moss once again.
The hotel and their staff were fantastic taking us in their stride and I am sure like me more than a few guests headed home couple kilos heavier after the excellent meals. Our generous guests left the staff tip-box overflowing.
As is our norm at the Gathering we support a local charity, this time the Strathcarron Hospice with a raffle and also proceeds from the horse race and generous donations from guests we raised the fantastic sum of over £500.
A big thanks to all our volunteers for without them there would be no Gathering and also to all our guests new and old for joining us for another successful event.
Haste ye Back!
Picture by John Lower