LAURINBURG — Before the 10th annual Highland Games in Scotland County could truly get cranked up, a surprise that had been kept for quite some time was revealed during the opening ceremonies on Saturday.
Bill Caudill, the director of the Scottish Heritage Center and longtime instructor of music at St. Andrews University, was presented with both the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award and Honor of the Long Leaf Pine.
“I had no idea, I am just blown away,” Caudill said. “I have worked here for 34 years and I feel blessed to be a part of the community.”
Not only were the awards kept secret by the organizers of the Highland Games and those who work with Caudill, but even his wife was hush-hush about them.
Co-chair of the Scotland County Board of Commissioners Carol McCall and State Rep. Garland Pierce presented the Order of the Long Leaf Award to Caudill in front of hundreds of festival attendees. The award is normally presented by the governor, but Gov. Roy Cooper had a previous engagement in Asheville.
“Caudill has for years given so much to Scotland County, raising the money with volunteers (and) bringing the festival back and putting it in Scotland County,” said McCall.
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is one of the most prestigious awards North Carolina can bestow to a citizen of the state. It is given to individuals who serve and highly contribute to their community and organizations for over 30 years.
The award in the past was given to visiting dignitaries but, over time, became an honor to notable locals in the state.
Caudill accepted his award and commenced the games by reading the official toast of North Carolina:
“Here’s to the land of the long leaf pine, the summer land where the sun doth shine, where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great; here’s to ‘Down Home,’ the Old North State!”
Jael Pembrick can be reached at 910-506-3169 or [email protected]