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COVID Cancels Championships

The highly anticipated Diamond Jubilee of the Australian Pipe Band Championships has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

These championships scheduled to be back in Maryborough for the first time since the inaugural championships were held in 1961 would have had bands from all over Australia compete at Princes Park for the prestigious title of Australian Champions. 2 weeks after the cancellation of the 160th New Year’s Day – Maryborough Highland Gathering, the Pipe Band Championships which were originally scheduled for April 2020 and subsequently postponed to April 2021 have also been cancelled in consultation with Pipe Bands Victoria and Pipe Bands Australia.

The Maryborough Highland Society stated; “It was the belief of all bodies that due to this unprecedented pandemic of which we are all now working through, that bands, judges, officials and local accommodation and service providers be given adequate amount of time to cancel travel plans and collect deposited monies. A lot of time and money was spent by the Highland Society to try and bring this world class event to Maryborough, to be so close to having the event go ahead in April this year, only to postpone and still have to cancel is disappointing for all of our volunteers, staff and the wider Maryborough Community, but in the end it was the inevitable decision that had to be made

President Andrew Rae – Event Promoter

Pipe Bands Victoria is becoming increasingly concerned that our bands may not be adequately prepared to compete and may end up having to compete at an Australian Championships without suitable lead in competitions, thus reducing the ability of our bands to perform at a high standard. PBV is also concerned about the uncertainty of border closures and other travel restrictions, and the impact this may have on the championships. We note the ongoing pandemic will continue to impact our bands financially, as none have been able to meet, practice, perform or fundraise now for almost six months.

Tim McLeod – Victorian Pipe Bands Chairman

The Australian Pipe Band Championships had 46 entries register to compete at this year’s championships, with over 1,000 people booked into accommodation in Maryborough and surrounds. This event would have been a tourist boom for the local Maryborough Community and its economic impact will now will unfortunately no longer apply.

Refunds for all registration fees paid are currently in the process of being returned to all bands. Victoria has the right to the 2024 Australian Pipe Band Championships and without wanting to pre-empt the decision of the Board, I believe that Maryborough Highland Society may again apply to host this event. The Society had put together a few things to make this years event extra special including a Gala Dinner and added activities on the day and would love the opportunity to be able to showcase what we and the wider community had to offer at a later time.

Malcolm Blandthorn – General Manager of the Maryborough Highland Society

Maryborough Highland Society had been outstanding in its planning and preparations for the Australian Pipe Band Championships, displaying enthusiasm and focus to stage a successful international event in regional Victoria. The championships were to have offered record prizemoney and had attracted competitors and officials from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Europe. The initial postponement, and now cancellation, of what would have been the Diamond Jubilee year championships is a great disappointment shared by the pipe band community and the Highland Society but the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on bands, like other community-based organisations, has been significant. Together with a virus still being transmitted, ongoing uncertainty around interstate travel and doubts that major community gatherings can events can be held into the foreseeable future, the Highland Society’s sensible decision puts the health and safety of people first. Maryborough will also retain a special place for pipe bands, hosting the first Australian championships in 1961 and promoting Scottish culture for more than 160 years. I extend immense thanks and gratitude to the Highland Society for its professional and co-operative approach over the past three years of planning for the championships that sadly now have had to be cancelled.

Chris Earl – President of Pipe Bands Australia

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