Broadcaster Alex O’Henley named Gaelic ambassador of the year

John Macleod, President of An Comunn G�idhealach, organisers of the Royal National M�d, with this years Gaelic Ambassador of the Year, Alex OHenley (right). Picture: John Maclean
John Macleod, President of An Comunn G�idhealach, organisers of the Royal National M�d, with this years Gaelic Ambassador of the Year, Alex OHenley (right). Picture: John Maclean
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Broadcaster Alex O’Henley has been named Gaelic ambassador of the year as the Royal National Mod gets under way in the Western Isles.

The eight-day celebration of Gaelic language, music and culture returns to the islands for the first time since 2011 and involves more than 200 competitions in Highland dancing, sport, literature, drama, Gaelic music and song.

There are also arts and sports events including shinty, football and a piping ceilidh, and talks including the Deputy First Minister John Swinney on The Place Of Gaelic In A Modern Scotland.

The Mod opened on Friday night with the presentation of the Scottish Government’s Gaelic ambassador of the year award to Alex O’Henley at a ceremony at Lewis Sports Centre in Stornoway, followed by a torch-lit procession through the town.

A South Uist native, he was the first Gaelic officer employed by the new Scottish Parliament between 2000 and 2002 and has been Uefa’s Scottish football correspondent since 2004.

O’Henley also regularly contributes to the BBC’s Gaelic radio service on Scottish and European Football and commentates on BBC Alba’s coverage of Scottish football.

He was part of the team which won two consecutive Royal Television Society Scotland awards for documentaries on Jim Baxter and Jock Stein on BBC Alba and said his latest award was a “great honour”.

John Morrison, chief executive of Mod organisers An Comunn Gaidhealach, praised the broadcaster.

He also used his opening address to call for the Western Isles to be Isles to be recognised by Unesco as a World Heritage Site and to commend developments in Gaelic-medium education for the rise younger speakers.

He said: “We’re delighted that Alex O’Henley has been awarded the prestigious Gaelic Ambassador of the year by the Scottish Government.

“His contribution to the Gaelic language through his work with the Scottish Parliament, Uefa and the BBC for so many years has made him a true role model and influence to Scottish Gaels of all ages.

“His continuing work in football ensures that thousands of people every week hear Gaelic, and shows Alex’s passion for maintaining the language in Scotland.

“It’s been a fantastic first day and we look forward to the rest of the 2016 Royal National Mod in the Western Isles.”