Europeans cancelled; plus more games fall

Glasgow Police competing at the 2019 European Pipe Band Championships held at Bught Park.
Local band, City of Inverness marching past at the 2019 European Pipe Band Championships at Bught Park.

Unsurprisingly, the European Pipe Band Championships has been cancelled for 2021. The news comes two days after the announcement that the British and the UK Championships were cancelled.

The ‘Europeans’ were scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 21 at Bught Park, Inverness, but with uncertainty around COVID-19 restrictions and following the latest Scottish Government guidance, the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA), in partnership with event organiser, LCC Live, has cancelled the major event.

LCC Live first hosted Piping Inverness in 2019, as part of a three-year agreement with the RSPBA. This year’s Championships would have been the third and final year of that delivery agreement, and it is hoped that LCC Live will be able to extend its contract for a further two years (2022 and 2023). Talks have started with the RSPBA, and LCC Live will be reaching out to other key delivery partners, in the hope the event can return to Inverness, when it is safe to do so.

Les Kidger, Director of LCC Live, said: “We’re so disappointed that Piping Inverness, which incorporates the European Pipe Band Championships, won’t be taking place this year. Events like this, take a considerable amount of time to organise, and with so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, we have, in partnership with the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, made the decision not to host this year’s event.

“We are talking to the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association about the possibility of extending our delivery contract into 2022 and 2023, as we’d love to welcome the European Pipe Band Championships back to Inverness. 2019 was a terrific event and brought many thousands of people to the local area and had a huge economic impact on Inverness and the Highlands.”

Dunbar (May 15), Innerleithen (June 5), Edinburgh (June 20) have also been cancelled, the RSPBA has confirmed.

Elsewhere, Tomintoul, Rosneath and Inveraray highland games are the latest solo piping events to be cancelled. More are expected in the days and weeks ahead.

All three usually take place in July, with the latter two being graded solo piping competitions (supported by the CPA for prize money in B and C grades but open to P, A, B and C grades). A spokesman for Inveraray told Bagpipe.News that the committee is aiming for July 19 next year for its restart.

Pipe Major Peter MacGregor competing at Inveraray in 2019.

Meanwhile, May’s Atholl Gathering, usually the first highland games of the season that features graded solo piping competitions, is likely to be cancelled. Officially, a decision will be taken at the end of March, when Atholl Estates normally puts the finishing touches to its plans for the coming tourist season, but sources say it is “highly likely” the event will be cancelled.

Also cancelled is the Pipe Major Donald MacLeod Memorial Piping Competition, held annually in Stornoway – has been cancelled for 2021. A virtual all-star piping recital is being organised in its place. 

Dr John Smith, chairman of the Lewis & Harris Piping Society said: “We are in the process of planning a virtual tribute concert. We have invited a selection of pipers – from our list of those who would ordinarily be considered for invitation to the competition – to submit a short video of themselves playing a selection of tunes, including some Donald MacLeod compositions.

Amid the gloomy news, we are once again grateful to the indefatigable Iain Bell for his latest Donald Drone cartoon which raises a chuckle (click on the image to enlarge):

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