Results from Daylesford and award for Donald Blair

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The Victoria pipe band season started on Saturday, December 3, at the Daylesford Highland Gathering in Victoria, Australia. The remaining competitions in Victoria occur in 2023 with Ballarat Grammar School contest on February 25, the Melbourne Highland Games, Croydon on March 26 and the Victorian Pipe Band Championships, Haileybury on April 2. Thanks to Sophie Stringer for providing the results and the tribute to Donald Blair.

by SOPHIE STRINGER

Daylesford is a beautiful country town, located in the Goldfields Region of Victoria, an hours drive north west of Melbourne and nestled between the regional cities of Bendigo and Ballarat. Daylesford Highland Gathering is held annually on the first Saturday of December and is the first gathering of the season. The Gathering includes a captivating Street March in the Main Street of Daylesford and a full days Drumming, Piping and Dancing at the picturesque Victoria Park.

•The massed bands at Daylesford Highland Gathering 2022. Video by Mark Bartils.

Established in 1952 by Dan McKinnon, the gathering has a long standing history of bringing people interested in the Scottish culture from within Australia and Internationally.

It was a very warm day, not unlike the Worlds (2022), although it only reached 26C it felt much warmer with chanters pitching up to about 490. Victoria gave us the first hot day of the summer, so it was a bit of an adjustment to the cold wet weather we have been experiencing in the lead up to the competition (due to the La Nina). 

The street march is definitely a highlight. Taking place in the morning before the contest, the streets are filled with locals and visitors, excited and applauding the parade. 

The 10 bands who attended were:

  • Hawthorn Pipe Band
  • Victoria Scottish Pipes & Drums 
  • City of Melbourne Highland Pipe Band 
  • Scotch College Pipes & Drums 
  • Old Scotch Pipe Band
  • Watsonia RSL Pipes & Drums
  • Warrnambool and District Pipes and Drums 
  • Ballarat Grammar 
  • Golden City Pipe Band 
  • The Daylesford & District Pipes and Drums

Award for Donald

•Donald Blair

Congratulations to Donald Blair who was presented an award at the Daylesford Highland Gathering in recognition of his services to pipe bands. In particular for his contribution to the Warrnambool Pipe Band and for his magnitude of dedication and years of attendance at the Highland Gathering. Donald, now 84, is coming up to his 40th year serving as the Warrnambool Pipe Major, an amazing achievement. Over his time as Pipe Major he has attended most of the Daylesford Highland Gatherings and has been highly influential to piping in Australia. 

After accepting his award, Donald said a few words: “I first attended this gathering when I was 16 and that’s quite a while ago. I loved hearing the playing of pipers visiting from Scotland.” Donald Blair (03/12/2022)

Donald Blair has dedicated his life to the promotion and teaching of the Highland Bagpipes. He began learning at age 8, taught by his father, a Scottish immigrant. By his teen years he was teaching pipes in his local region, becoming Pipe Major of the Terang & District Pipe Band, later joining the Warrnambool men’s band (late 1960s) and becoming Pipe Major of the amalgamated Warrnambool & District Pipes and Drums in 1983. Donald has taught all of his children to play the bagpipes with passion and enthusiasm, inspiring them to teach music and work in different avenues of bagpipes. For Donald his teaching has been a labour of love, with no fees. Donald would open his home to pupils learning the pipes, giving them an immersive musical experience. Not only would they partake in a piping boot camp, but would also be put to the task of milking cows and farm jobs. This was the norm at Donald Blair’s home for many years. If you were lucky enough to experience such an opportunity, you might just have gotten a badge stating: “I piped at Donald’s dairy”!

Results 

Grade 2

  1. Hawthorn Pipe Band (only competing band) 

Grade 3

  1. Victoria Scottish Pipes and Drums 
  2. City of Melbourne Highland Pipe Band No.1 

Grade 4A

  1. Old Scotch Pipe Band 
  2. Scotch College Pipes & Drums 
  3. Warrnambool & District Pipes & Drums 

Grade 4B

  1. Scotch College Pipe & Drums No. 2
  2. Ballarat Grammar 
  3. Golden City Pipe Band 
  4. City of Melbourne Highland Pipe Band No. 2
  5. Watsonia RSL Pipes and Drums 

Novice A

  1. Scotch College Pipes & Drums No.1 (only competing band) 

Novice B Medley

  1. Scotch College Pipes & Drums no. 2 
  2. Ballarat Grammar 

Novice B SOM

  1. Scotch College Pipes & Drums No. 2
  2. Ballarat Grammar
  3. Scotch College Pipes & Drums no. 3