Anger after trio ‘black up’ for Wick Gala

Three people have been censured for dressing up as gollys during a parade in Wick, Caithness. Picture: Hemedia

Three people have been censured for dressing up as gollys during a parade in Wick, Caithness. Picture: Hemedia

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A SUMMER parade in a Caithness town has been at the centre of a race row after three “thoughtless youngsters” arrived dressed as gollys.

Two girls and boy painted their faces black and put curly wigs on their heads while wearing distinctive red, blue, white and black costumes.

If Wick Gala wants to continue then there are a lot of locals who seriously need to educate themselves on the bigger issues of the world

Lauren Thomas, resident

Police probed the incident after a member of the public raised the alarm over “inappropriate behaviour” at Wick Gala, Caithness, on Saturday.

Officers then spoke to organisers “to provide advice and guidance for future events of this nature”.

A golly was a black character in children’s books in the late 19th century, usually depicted as a type of rag doll.

But across the UK and the Commonwealth, the term has become a racial slur applied to dark-skinned people in recent years.

Local resident Lauren Thomas, 23, said: “This sums up the idiotic, careless choice of a few costumes worn at this year’s Wick Gala.

“Anything goes at gala and apparently this includes racism. A handful of people dressing up as golliwog dolls and ‘blacking up’ as well-know black celebrities ruined the night.

“It’s ridiculous that the people responsible for these costumes didn’t even consider how offensive they were being.

“I don’t think that Wick is a racist place, it’s just not caught up with everyone else with its dated views and attitudes.

“If Wick Gala wants to continue then there are a lot of locals who seriously need to educate themselves on the bigger issues of the world.”

Saskia Leighton, 23, also from Wick, added: “The gala is a fantastic day of the year that really brings the community together.

“It’s a real shame to see that great atmosphere spoiled by a few naive, thoughtless youngsters.

“I hope that they have learned from this and understand that although Wick may be remote they understand what it means and why it caused offence.

“I hope that the Wick Gala continues to be a positive and fun experience for everyone involved.”

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland they had received a call about the incident from a member of the public.

She added: “On Monday 27 July Police in Wick received a call from a member of the public seeking to raise awareness of what they deemed as possible inappropriate behaviour at a public event known as the Wick Gala which took place on Saturday 25 July in the town centre.

“Suitable advice was provided to the caller. Officers have also been in contact with the charity event organisers to provide advice and guidance for future events of this nature.”

The organisers of the parade are understood to have been unaware of the incident, but the chair of Wick Gala Committee refused to comment last night.

Many traders have come under fire for selling the golly dolls in recent years – including the Queen who pulled them from sale at her Sandringham Estate shop.

The character had been the mascot of Paisley’s Robertson’s Jam until it was ditched in 2002.

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