A FORMER Hermitage Academy pupil has described her delight at representing her country as part of Scotland’s entry in the recent Eurovision Choir contest.

Ainsley Hamill, from Cardross, was a member of the 33-strong Alba Choir taking part in the competition for the first time in Gothenburg, Sweden on Saturday, August 3.

Up against 10 other nations, and with millions watching worldwide, the group performed a Gaelic ensemble and males were kitted out in specially designed tartan kilts made just for the occasion.

Despite Denmark taking the spoils on the night, Ainsley said she has been buoyed by the response to the Scottish effort and won’t forget the experience any time soon.

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“It was such a thrill to be a part of something so huge," she said, “and it was just a complete honour to be asked to represent my country.

“Standing up on stage, even though you’re part of this big group, it’s easy to feel like you are on your own. I definitely felt the nerves before show time, but you get that adrenaline rush and just get on with it.

“It’s more the fact that it’s a competition and you only get one shot at it and it’s televised with 100 million people watching, it’s ridiculous really when you think about it.

“You don’t want to fall off stage or anything like that or let your team down. We had all practised hundreds of times but if one person made a mistake then it would be like everyone had failed.

“I thought we performed exceptionally well, we were pretty much flawless. Backstage we were making mistakes because we were under pressure but once we got out there everyone was just too good and we pulled together and got on with it. We’re all really proud of our performance.”

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Ainsley, 27, has a successful solo career as a folk singer and songwriter, but she said it was a special moment performing as part of the choir – and singing in Gaelic added even more significance to the event.

She said: “I have a serious love for the language. I studied it at college and coming from Argyll as well, it was amazing that such a historical language was on show on the international stage.

“It doesn’t even matter that we didn’t win, it’s the fact that up to 100 million people heard it.

“Gaelic choirs are infamous for everything having to be done in a certain way, quite rigid. They are mostly viewed at the mòd [festival of traditional music, arts and culture], but this was something different, we were dancing and moving, putting every bit of emotion we had into it.

“That’s not to say that traditional Gaelic choirs lack emotion, but this was a step up.”

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Ainsley, who is now based in London and recently set up a company promoting Gaelic culture and arts, called The Association of Exiled Scots, is returning north of the border for a run of gigs which includes a concert at the Mackintosh Club in Helensburgh on Thursday, August 22.

She added: “The Mack Club is an incredible venue and it means so much more to me now to come back as I live away in London.

“My friends and family were all immensely proud of me after the Eurovision competition, they all held their own individual parties in their houses.

“Everybody in my family is a fan of Eurovision and always watching it, so for me to be a part of it was quite surreal for them.

“It’ll be great to perform for them back in my home area.”

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