NOT only has he had the opportunity to officially open Australia’s only Highland Games, Don Campbell has now been asked to organise the first Aussie Beach Highland Games for Easter 2019.

And flying half way around the world to open the Maryborough Highland Games, Lochgelly’s Don Campbell was totally surprised to be met by a Cowdenbeath man!

Don, from Paxton Crescent, was just soaking up the experience of the Maryborough Games when a man came up to him and introduced himself.

Said Don: “I could not believe it when he introduced himself as Barry Crombie, from Cowdenbeath, it really is a small world.

"He has been in Australia for 30 years but was still asking how things were back home!"

Don and wife Margaret spend the summer months on the Highland Games circuit with Don the country’s number one handicap setter and Margaret providing expert help behind the scenes.

The former Scottish professional sprint winner was shocked when he was contacted by the organising committee of the Maryborough Games in Victoria asking him to open their event on New Year’s Day.

He and Margaret headed off Down Under not really sure what to expect, being ‘veterans’ of hundreds of games all over Scotland.

Said Don, a regular at such events as Braemar and Cowal Highland Games: “I really was left thinking on the trip to Australia exactly what we would meet come Games day.

“Would it all take the form of our traditional games or would it be something totally different. Well I should not have worried for it really was a fantastic experience and the people could not have been nicer in every respect.

“But you could have knocked me down with a feather when they asked me to go back to Australia in 2019 and help organise their first Beach Games.”

Don played his part in the organisation of Scotland’s first beach Highland Games on Kirkcaldy promenade two years ago and he hopes to use the experienced gained there in the Australian plans.

He added: “It was quite a strange thing to get going but to be honest the Kirkcaldy Beach Games went really well with both the athletes and the spectators really enjoying it.

“It is certainly very different from the normal games, but once you have seen it go ahead you know what you can tweak to make it better and Margaret and myself will be delighted to help the Maryborough people get their Beach Games organised.”

Don was delighted to be asked to open the New Year’s Day games in the Victorian town which has a heavy industry history: “It was a really tremendous day with huge crowds, upwards of 8,000.

“I had to give a wee speech and it went down pretty well and things just gathered pace from there.

“It was a day packed with action and the quality of the events was really very good and after the Games there was a social evening and I amazingly met a former athlete from the Borders who I had handicapped a few years ago at Cowdenbeath Games, then came the meeting with Barry Crombie at the end of the day.

“It all made it an amazing experience for both myself and Margaret.”

Added the handicapper who is looking forward to the new Scottish Games season: “We went to several athletics events after the Maryborough Games and it was a memorable trip.

“And to be be asked to help organise the first Australian Beach Games is a complete honour and one we are both looking forward to.”

Margaret spent a bit of time taking entries for this year's Burntisland Highland Games during a spare moment or two!