Lanark's Whuppity Scoorie 2017 - video

They have been running for centuries, although no one is sure why.

They may be beating the Devil out of Lanark, chasing away evil spirits or simply welcoming spring.

Youngsters set off on their run round St Nicholas Church. (Pic by Jim Clare)

Youngsters set off on their run round St Nicholas Church. (Pic by Jim Clare)

But on March 1 every year, as Lanark's town steeple bell rings out at 6pm, the town’s children go on the run. Three times they fly around St Nicholas Church, waving paper balls above their head.

The tradition was the same this year, but the balls were very, very different.

They had balls of all shapes and designs this year, with age group winners including a model of the church itself.

(I have to confess to a vested interest here as traditionally these balls have beenwere made of newspaper, and the the Gazette has long been reputed as the best paper to use in making them. If you paint it as a cat or a minion, though, I can’t check that you are still using the Gazette!)

But the Whuppity Scoorie tradition even predates the Gazette, and early last century, it saw boys from Lanark taping their caps with string and heading down to fight boys from neighbouring New Lanark.

In later years, it was a race around St Nicholas Church, but health and safety worries in recent decades put paid to that.

But it was still scary as the countdown ended and well over 100 children charged forwards for their annual run, older ones pelting at full speed, smaller ones toddling happily and those too young even to walk being carried around by parents.

Grannies and aunties shouted them on and kept them going as some of the little ones began to flag.

Prizes for the best decorated balls were donated by Tom and Margo Yates, and they were presented at the cross by councillors Ed Archer and Catherine McClymont.

Then came the highlight of the short evening – the scramble.

Members of the Royal Burgh of Lanark Community Council, the event’s organiser, threw coins for the youngsters in Hyndford Place, behind the church, with gifts of chocolate money too.

There were also prizes for posters of the event, created by primary school pupils.

First prize for the older children went to Ellie O’Neill at St Mary’s Primary School; the primary 5 prize went to Aimee Seeley at New Lanark Primary; and for the youngest children, the prize went to Cara Buckingham of Lanark Primary.