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SPEED BONNIE BOAT TO GET BAND TO THE STAGE
16 Jul 2012
Scots band Sketch pushed the boat out to ensure they didn’t miss a headlining slot at an island music festival.
The group were running late for their Saturday night starring role on the Island Stage at the Hebridean Celtic Festival in Stornoway after being delayed returning from Canada.
Having made it to Ullapool they realised the scheduled ferry service would not get them to Lewis on time for their gig and so hired a fast RIB (rigid inflatable boat) to take them over the Minch.
They arrived cold and soaked after a two and a half hour crossing just 15 minutes late for the concert and proceeded to play for over an hour.
Band member Iain Copeland, who had travelled separately from the four others and arrived in Lewis on Friday, said: “They made quite an entrance and despite being quite wet and a bit shell-shocked went straight on stage. They were fantastic considering what they had been through.
“In the circumstances it was a miracle the gig was delayed only 15 minutes. It was all worth it because HebCelt is our favourite festival and we got a great reception from the audience.”
The sea crossing was the last leg of a lengthy week of travelling for Sketch who had played gigs in Vancouver and Winnipeg before flying back to Scotland.
Meanwhile, organisers of the HebCelt festival – which was headlined by The Waterboys, The Proclaimers and Kassidy - said it has enjoyed one of its most successful- and driest- events.
Ticket sales were up 7 per cent on last year, when 14,500 people attended, and sales of merchandise were up 38 per cent.
While other festivals, including T in the Park and the Isle of Wight, were held in torrential downpours which reduced arenas to mudbaths, the 17th HebCelt experienced its driest year ever and Scottish Water even issued advice to islanders to use water wisely due to the absence of rain.
The Outer Hebrides has enjoyed a sustained heat-wave without significant rain for over two months and only light showers broke the drought at the weekend.
This year visitors from 19 different countries travelled to the Hebrides and festival director Caroline Maclennan said she was delighted with the attendance and the continuing popularity of HebCelt while other festivals have been hit by economic problems.
She said: “This was another hugely successful year for HebCelt. Our unique setting and mixture of established names and promising new acts is a winning combination which seems to strike the right chord with our audience.
“Next year is our 18th birthday which is a significant milestone for the event and we are already thinking of how we can make that event even more special.”
Visitors from Algeria, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand and the US made the journey to Lewis as well as many from across the UK.
Due to the influx of numbers, an appeal was made to local people to help accommodate visitors. Caledonian MacBrayne also provided an extra ferry service between Stornoway and Ullapool early yesterday to cope with the traffic returning to the mainland at the end of the festival.
The overseas contingent helped swell the ranks of the 120-strong volunteer army which worked behind the scenes, contributing over 3,500 unpaid man hours over the course of the four days.
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