ST NINIAN'S DAY PARADE LAUNCH: WELCOMING THE HOLY FATHER TO SCOTLAND ST MARGARET'S CHAPEL, EDINBURGH CASTLE, 10.15 HRS, TUESDAY 31 AUGUST
Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien, will today launch the St Ninian's Day Parade - a 'grand Scottish spectacle' to welcome Pope Benedict XVI to this country next month while also raising money for good causes at home and abroad. To launch the event, the Cardinal will be joined by the Minister for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop MSP. The Holy Father arrives in Edinburgh on the morning of 16 September - St Ninian's Day - where he will meet Her Majesty The Queen at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It's estimated there could be as many as a billion people watching worldwide.
To mark the occasion, Cardinal O'Brien has invited over a thousand pipers, hundreds of school children, dozens of historical characters plus two nominated charities to greet the Pope and entertain the crowds who'll gather in the capital that morning.
¢ The pipers will be drawn from bands from Scotland and further afield with particular emphasis on school and youth pipe bands. They'll lead the parade from Regent Road to Princes Street where they will play 'Highland Cathedral' as the Pope himself travels past in the Popemobile.
¢ The school children are the parade VIPs - they're invited form all 14 schools across the country named after St Ninian. That includes Catholic, Episcopalian and non-denominational schools.
¢ The historical characters will chart the history of Christianity in Scotland since the days of St Ninian himself 1600 years ago. Characters will include St Columba, St Margaret, Mary Queen of Scots, John Knox and, from more recent times, Eric Liddell, George Mackay Brown and Muriel Spark.
¢ The nominated charities that will benefit from fundraising at the parade are Marie Curie Cancer Care and Mary's Meals. Marie Curie has two hospices in Scotland “ Glasgow and Edinburgh. It also has a network of nurses working in communities across Scotland. Mary's Meals sets up and runs school feeding projects in communities where poverty and hunger prevent children from gaining an education. It currently provides daily meals for 400,000 children in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The St Ninian's Day Parade will begin at 11am from Regent Road and will march along Princes Street concluding at 12.30pm with the arrival of the Holy Father himself in the Popemobile. The event is free and spectators are advised to arrive in plenty of time.
Cardinal O Brien says; In centuries gone by St Ninian s Day was always a great occasion for national celebration and charitable giving. We ve now got a fabulous chance to resurrect that noble Scottish tradition by raising money for two wonderful charities.
Fiona Hyslop MSP, Minister for Culture and External Affairs, says; "The St Ninian's Day parade will be a wonderful occasion as crowds gather in the streets of Edinburgh to extend the world-renowned warm Scottish welcome to the Holy Father. This is a great opportunity for all of Scotland to celebrate the positive contribution all our faith communities make to the life of our nation."
Head teacher of St Ninian s Primary School in Stirling, Elaine Wyllie, says; "The Pope's visit is of international importance. Our school is honoured to be taking part in the St. Ninians Day parade and being amongst the first people to welcome him to Scotland. As a result of being invited to take part in the parade, we are currently working on a joint project with our local Catholic school, St. Mary's Bannockburn, to find out more about the life and times of St. Ninian."
Head of Community Fundraising for Marie Curie Cancer Care, Paul Thompson, says; We are delighted to have been chosen as one of the beneficiary charities for the Pope s visit. With tens of thousands expected to turn out for both the parade and the Pope s journey through Edinburgh, it s a fantastic opportunity for Marie Curie to raise substantial funds for the services we provide here in Scotland .
The founder and Chief Executive of Mary s Meals, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, says; The St Ninian's Day Parade promises to be a wonderful event, bringing together people from across Scotland to welcome the Pope. Mary's Meals is thrilled to have been chosen as one of the charities to benefit from the celebration and our staff and volunteers are looking forward to being involved on the day. Any monies raised by Mary's Meals will help provide school meals for hungry children in some of the world's poorest countries, enabling them to access education that will help them to escape poverty in the long term.
The Leader of Edinburgh City Council, Councillor Jenny Dawe, says: This is a superb opportunity for Edinburgh to be seen on the world stage and to showcase the city as an excellent host of major events. While many people overseas already appreciate Edinburgh s qualities as a place in which to work, study and holiday, I hope that some of the millions watching the Pope s arrival in the UK are encouraged to come and see our city for themselves. It is undoubtedly a significant visit and I m sure that the city will, as usual, rise to the occasion."
NOTES TO EDITORS;
The launch will consists of a mini-parade constituting about 100th of the actual size of the parade on the day. The venue is the St Margaret s Chapel, the oldest part of the castle and where St Margaret, the 11th century Queen of Scots, herself prayed. The chapel includes a stained glass window of St Ninian, created by artists Douglas Strachan in 1922.
Taking part will be;
¢ Cardinal Keith Patrick O Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh
¢ Fiona Hyslop MSP, Minister for Culture and External Affairs.
¢ Children from Primary 6 at St Ninian s Primary School, Edinburgh and St Ninian s Primary School, Stirling. The former is a Catholic school and the latter is non-denominational.
¢ Pipers from Lochgelly High School Pipe Band in Fife. All the children will be available for interview.
¢ Historical characters including St Margaret, Robert the Bruce, John Knox and St Ninian himself. John Knox will be played by Scottish actor, John Shedden. He will be available for interview.
¢ Representatives from both Marie Curie and Mary s Meals. The Marie Curie representative will be nurse Karin Steward and the spokesman will be Regional Events Manager for Scotland, Robbie McIntosh. The Mary s Meals representative and spokesman will be founder and chief executive, Magnus McFarlane-Barrow.
FOR MORE INFORMATION;
Peter Kearney, Director Scottish Catholic Media Office “ 0141 221 1168 or 07968 122291 m.
David Kerr, Media Officer, Scottish Catholic Media Office “ 0141 221 1168 or 07854 307338 m.
Ross Proctor, Communications Officer: Culture and External Affairs, Scottish Government - 0131 244 2682 or 07827 284039 m.
Robbie McIntosh, Regional Events Manager Scotland, Marie Curie Cancer Care - 0131 561 3961 or 07798 638 154 m.
Abeer McIntyre, Lead Fundraiser, Mary s Meals - 07974 139677 m.
ALSO; ST NINIAN S DAY PARADE WEBSITE; http://www.stniniansday.co.uk