Bob McMillan, receives the Spirit of the Games Award from Brian Johnston (rear), vice-president of the Scottish Festival Society and Wayne McDougall (right) society president. Photo courtesy Rob MacNeil

Tom Mair remembered through Spirit of the Games award

The Penticton Scottish Festival honours one of its own

The Tom Mair Memorial Spirit of the Games was awarded at the conclusion of Penticton Scottish Festival &Highland Games.

Mair was a prominent figure in the history of Highland Games in Penticton. Whether it was running the Penticton Highland Games or the City of Penticton Pipe Band, Mair was always proud of the efforts made by both organizations to promote Scottish culture through music, dance and sport. Although no longer with us, Mair will always be remembered for his hard work, humour and enthusiasm for everything Scottish.

As Mair dedicated a lot of his life to organizing and supporting Highland Games, each year, in his honour, the Tom Mair Memorial Spirit of the Games Award is presented to a Scottish Festival director, competitor or volunteer that has shown their continued commitment to Scottish culture and the Highland Games in Penticton.

This year, the trophy went to one of the Scottish Festival Society’s founding members and Mair’s friend, Bob McMillan, who has enjoyed the sounds of bagpipe music and pipe bands since he was a young child. Whenever there was a parade in Penticton with pipe bands, he was there, keeping time. In the early 2000s, he began learning to play the bagpipes under the direction of Mair’s daughter, the current Pipe Major of the City of Penticton Pipe Band, Shannon Mair. He was a regular spectator, then volunteer, then organizer at the Penticton Highland Games throughout the 1990s and 2000s until they came to an end in 2006. McMillan was one of the driving forces behind the founding of the Scottish Festival Society and in 2012 was among the first members to meet to revive Highland Games under the banner of the Penticton Scottish Festival in July 2014. He has served on the society’s board of directors as vice-president and is now back to his roots as grounds, beverage garden and volunteer co-ordinator.