The popular Lochaber Gathering professional piping contest is to go ahead this year after cancellation in 2020. Barring unforeseen problems, it will be one of the first ‘in person’ solo contests to be held in Scotland post-pandemic.
By Ken A. Cameron
Chairman, Lochaber Piping Society
After the sad death last year of Allan MacColl, who almost single-handedly organised the competition, it looked as if this popular and successful event might disappear from the calendar.
However, Lochaber Piping Society has stepped up to the mark and agreed with the MacColl family that the Society would take over the running of the competition.
This would not have been possible without the support of The Moidart Trust and The P.F. Charitable Trust, whose generosity has enabled the Society to organise the event. We may be able to name one of the competitions after the late banker and philanthropist Robin Fleming, who was a great benefactor of the competition for many years.
Whilst retaining the attractive prizes which have long been a feature of the competition, this year we have an exciting change of venue and the event will be held right in the centre of Fort William, using the new cinema for two indoor platforms, plus a covered outside space. This location will add a much-needed attraction into Fort William itself, to benefit locals and tourists alike.
For the competitors, the Lochaber Gathering will comprise a familiar array of classes, although the number of entries will likely have to be capped this year.
The competition, on Friday, August 27, will follow straight on from the Argyllshire Gathering (August 25/26) and, of course, the Northern Meeting is scheduled to begin just a few days later on September 2nd.
This year, unfortunately, we have not been able to include a Junior Competition, but this will be reviewed for subsequent years. Entry forms will be available and further details announced soon.
The plan at the moment is to hold the Piobaireachd and MSR competitions indoors in the cinema, which has two two performance platforms.
As well as these two areas, we have booked the use of the outdoor area in Cameron Square (just in front of the cinema). This is a nice flat paved area with an overhead canopy and built seating around it, open to the public.
Our thinking is that this would be great for the Hornpipe & Jig competition which could run all day and would be a great draw for tourists and locals alike – especially if we were to get good weather.
Tuning areas are being worked on and there are already two final tuning spaces in the cinema. It also has a full bar and café/restaurant section. Check out the slideshow:
The new cinema opened last year. The publicity blurb read: ‘On the 25th September, a brand new two screen independent cinema will open its door to the public in Fort William. Along with the 100 and 65 seat auditoriums is an 84 seat café and wine bar.
‘The building is in the best position on the High Street, Cameron Square, on the site of the old town hall. Every effort has been made to make the building a dynamic presence in town. The image shows the local stone and traditional red roofed corrugated roof inspired by the village hall in nearby Onich.
‘The café has a beautiful Douglas fir ceiling, long tables and a terrace. The gents toilets are themed around illegal whisky and the main auditorium has a real red Lotus sports car donated by a local businessman for cinema goers to watch the film from.’
- Stay tuned to Piping Press for more on the Lochaber Gathering piping.
- Stay tuned to Piping Press for further news on the Lochaber Gathering.