My Shock and Surprise at the Loss of a Pipe Band Championship This Summer

As regards the news that there will be no British Pipe Band Championship this year, I am a little surprised at the lack of comment from others so far. Maybe everyone is as shocked and stunned as I was at the RSPBA announcement. 

I felt that their terse statement last week, with no detail about what avenues had been explored and no meaningful apology, was a disgrace to the many bands, and bands people, that have been let down by their association. 

By Ian Forbes

This is a disaster for the pipe band world, and while I was in favour of ‘cutting some slack’ to the RSPBA while they worked towards new arrangements, I do feel that the lack of foresight and transparency on their management of the majors for 2023 represents a serious failing.

I don’t really want to be the sole voice castigating the RSPBA, but there are some serious questions that need to be answered. These are my own thoughts but may reflect the general mood of pipers and drummers:

When the cost of living crisis started last September, did alarm bells not start ringing at the RSPBA regarding 2023 championship contracts that had not been agreed and signed off?

Does the RSPBA not have contingency plans in the eventuality that any of the major venues becomes unavailable, a plan that could have been used in the current situation?


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The RSPBA reported on 5th February that a working group had been set up to investigate other options. How much effort actually went into this, as less than one week later, they announced a total lack of success?

Was Cowal considered or approached to host the British in August? Cowal has decades of experience in hosting a major event.

For a cancellation of this magnitude, bands and bands people fully deserve, and are entitled to, a detailed explanation of all the other options that were explored, the timings, and the outcomes.

What recompense will be offered to bands, as the RSPBA has always committed to organising five majors every year, e.g. a partial refund of subs? 

Remember, the RSPBA is the organisation that insisted that all bands pay their subs during the two-year covid hiatus to ensure the continuation of a strong and professional organisation, and even threatened bands with expulsion if they did not pay.

  • If anyone would like to add to this please do so below. The RSPBA has been approached for comment. The original statement on their website reads: ‘Following consideration of the extensive feedback from RSPBA branches, individuals & existing event promoters, a viable solution to spread the Championship grades across the minor competitions cannot be found. This is primarily due to the substantial knock on effects to already established local events. The Board of Directors share the disappointment of the membership in being unable to find a solution and are now working on securing promoters and venues for the 2024 season and beyond.The British had been scheduled for May 20 and this has now been removed from the Association’s summer season calendar.

3 thoughts on “My Shock and Surprise at the Loss of a Pipe Band Championship This Summer

  1. The association must have had fair warning that gourock only wanted the contest for one year… Where was the future planning at that time??
    AGM soon, I wonder how the books are looking?? Maybe should have funded the contest themselves??

  2. I personally think the board of the RSPBA have failed their organisation by not sorting this out. Their members should be asking questions. It’s not that they cover any cost for bands’ travelling, so all the board have to do is get a venue. It would be interesting to see the figures, what they ask local authorities to find when cash is tight. Someone from the RSPBA board should come out with all the costings.

  3. I think we can all be disappointed at the loss of this major, however I don’t think it comes as a massive surprise. Unfortunately, this issue is all part of the underfunding of local authorities in Scotland for the past 10 and a bit years. Given how much their budgets have been slashed, the viability of hosting a championships at the last minute and the costing involved would not be in the interest of any local authority. The initial financial hit in taking on the event would be too much, even though the event may recoup some of the losses. Additionally, with staffing levels being depleted so much in recent years due to cuts to budgets, organising such an event last minute, would place immense stress on the already demoralised workers in local government.

    We can act surprised at this announcement but this is just the start, other games and championships may follow suit in the years to come as the viability of holding these games comes at a major expense to local authorities. If the Scottish government seriously care about piping and its importance to Scottish society, they have to realise the slashing of budgets to local authorities has implications beyond what many people comprehend.

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