A STORYTELLER who has lived in Haddington for nearly half a century has returned to his roots to win a competition for the second year in a row.

Bob Mitchell retained the open prose title in the Buchan Heritage Society’s annual Doric competition.

Each year, the group holds a celebration of all things Doric – a dialect used by people in the north-east of Scotland – including a written section and also an oral category.

However, the coronavirus saw the cancellation of the spoken word section, with the written event still going ahead.

Bob said: “I have been going up for a number of years to compete in the Buchan Heritage Festival. I had a verbal story but, of course, that was cancelled this year.

“Only two things went ahead – the written stories and the poetry sections.

“It was the same as last year, when I won the written story and came second in the poetry competition.”

A former Justice of the Peace, Bob grew up on a croft in the Parish of Belhelvie, to the north of Aberdeen.

There, Doric was how many people spoke and he was keen to see the dialect continue to have a home.

His prize-winning story, Fa Parles E Frinch? attempts to bring Doric into the modern world.

He said: “When you go up there, the whole idea is to keep Doric going.

“In years gone by, I have gone for slightly rural settings, and stories about horses and ploughs and things like that, featuring a bygone age.

“This year, if indeed Doric is to continue and be promoted, I decided to bring my story bang up to date.”

The story, described as “a modern love story with lots of laughs and crossed wires”, impressed the judging panel and saw Bob, 73, rewarded with the trophy for the category once again.

Bob moved to Haddington 48 years ago and set up home.

He said: “I feel I chose to come to East Lothian and I have lived here almost twice as long as in the north-east. Family and Aberdeen Football Club are my big associations with up there but I have chosen to live in East Lothian and, hopefully, I will be allowed to do that for as long as I have got.”

Bob has settled so well in East Lothian’s county town that he has hosted an event at the heart of the Haddington Festival for more than 25 years.

Bob Mitchell’s Festival Quiz is always popular; sadly, though, this year’s festival was cancelled – a decision taken due to the unavailability of the town’s Corn Exchange and rising costs, rather than due to the coronavirus outbreak.