Team Scotland was represented at the 2019 Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey by Glasgow 2014 and Gold Coast 2018 Athletics medallist Mark Dry. He gives us a glimpse behind the scenes and explains what occasions like these mean in his own words:
It was a crisp Monday morning on the 11th of March, and instead of short shorts and a ten-minute drive to the track to train, I got to don my kilt once again and set sail from port Loughborough on a different set of tracks. Today it was a train to London, to hang with the Royals and try not to get in trouble.
Okay, it was a little more formal than that, I was bestowed the honour of representing Scotland at the Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey and (not for the first time!) was the only man in kilt and tracksuit. I was joined by athletes from England, Northern Ireland and Wales in the procession down the aisle to commemorate this special day, bringing together all 71 nations and territories of the Commonwealth.
After the deep regret of not taking an extra layer, after the morning sun deceived me into thinking it was going to be a warm day, and the usual awful patter from passers by saying “check that guy wearing a skirt”, “Do you think he’s from Scotland?” (queue slow sarcastic clap) ….. I made it to London, which is apparently the windiest place on earth. After killing some time watching the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and a lap of St James Park we headed to the Abbey to meet and greet with schoolchildren from all around the country. After keeping them entertained with some ‘guess which sport we all do?’, it looks like I may have a future as a wrestler! Ha-ha!
It truly is an honour to represent your country in any form and walking into such a prestigious and beautiful building, wearing a kilt as the sole Scotsman, was extremely special and something I’ll never forget. You really do get a feeling of being somewhere special with such beautiful architecture, high arches, all the stained glass and everything you look at flooded with history and tradition. As the room filled, the flustered ushers flapped to get everyone in place like clockwork and stick to TV times, just as we are so accustomed to at major championships – I felt their pain!
Then away we went down the aisle proudly representing our part of the Commonwealth Games, which was such a huge success in 2018. Following us was the arrival of the Queen and the Royal Family and an amazing service filled with music and dance from across the Commonwealth nations. In the acoustics of Westminster Abbey this sounded incredibly haunting, especially an amazing performance by William Barton on the Didgeridoo!
All in all, an amazing day and nothing but positivity from everyone there and it was awesome to see real excitement from the younger generation. I’m far from finished in this sport, though the road has been rough. It’s moments like these and putting on my Scotland vest at Commonwealth Games that really do stay with you and make me strive to push forward to see more occasions like this for my country.
Make the most of every opportunity that comes your way and fight like hell to keep them lit!