A year ago the people of Keith were shocked when a car crash on the A96 claimed the life of a former Keith Grammar School pupil.
Stuart Begg was just 18 when he was sadly pronounced dead at the scene of the accident outside Keith.
However, on Sunday, nearly a year after Stuart’s tragic death, around 300 people gathered to celebrate his life at a memorial football tournament at Simpson Park.
Amanda Begg, Stuart’s sister, organized the tournament and was blown away by the turnout on the day.
“It’s more than I expected, but it shows how much he was loved,” Amanda said.
“I want to remember him for who he was and not what happened to him.
“He absolutely loved his football, that’s why he’s at the center of everything. I just know he would have been absolutely delighted with that.
“It was stressful organizing this in the sense that you never think you’re going to organize something for someone who should still be there.
“To realize that it’s been a whole year has been a challenge, but it was worth it and I’m sure he would have been proud.”
As well as honoring Stuart’s memory, the tournament has received donations to be split equally between Keith and District Sports Development, where Stuart started football, and Rrrrallye which promotes road awareness among young people.
“We received a lot of donations and the raffle was very successful,” added Amanda.
“It was just amazing. It’s a really nice way to mark the year and to see everyone giving their time for it was heart-warming. He was a really outgoing person. Really bubbly, really funny and I’m sure that’s how he would like to be remembered. He wouldn’t want everyone crying inside.
Teams from across the Northeast participated in the tournament, including former Stuart, Deveronvale Colts, Macduff and Turriff teams.
Following Stuart’s death last year, the football community came together in support of Amanda and her family. This saw Macuff retire number 24, the number Stuart had worn for the team, install a pew in his memory at Turriff and wear their respective kits to his funeral.
However, his loss is still felt today among his former teammates and coaches.
Malky Smith coached Stuart for the Deveronvale Colts and returned Sunday to take over the team in his honor. He was also a pallbearer at Stuart’s funeral, adding that it was an “honor” to be invited by the family to be one.
“Stuart could be cheeky, but he was just a really good boy,” Malky said.
“We were just devastated by what happened to him but we’re all here because of him.
“Some of the Deveronvale Colts team went to play somewhere else, but they came back today for him.
“The number of people who came is a testament to him.
“It’s just a huge loss. We still feel it a year later.”
Mitchell Allan played alongside Stuart at Deveronvale Colts and captained the team. He also returned on Sunday to pay tribute to his former teammate and good friend.
“We just couldn’t believe it when we heard the news last year,” he said.
“He was a great character. You heard him before you saw him, but we all loved that about him.
“He was exactly the same on the pitch as he was off it. He received a few red cards in his time, but that was just his passion for the game.
“He would have loved that. If he could have chosen how he would be remembered, that probably would have been it.”