The Grade 1 Australia Highlanders won’t be competing at this year’s World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow. The band has decided to pull the plug on travel plans to return to the World’s, citing financial challenges as the reason.
“It is a huge task that we embark on each year,” said the band’s Pipe-Major, Danny Boyle. “Collectively it costs the band around $150,000 per year to attend and it has been a tremendous effort to get the band over there in the last five years.”
Boyle said that in the past the band has depended on local council grants and independent sponsorship support – as well as members paying from their own pockets – to raise enough funds to make the journey. But this year, as in 2009, the band has missed out on grant funding.
He added that airfare to Scotland has skyrocketed this year, each flight prices at more than $2,800. Boyle said that, as a result, the band would have been able to attend without key personnel, thus not able to compete at full-strength. Australia’s economy has been hit hard by the recent global financial crisis and the ash plume from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano has compounded problems for the air travel industry.
“This is disappointing, especially seeing the improvement and form the band is currently in,” Boyle said. “But we are a very determined group. We will continue the momentum and return to Glasgow in 2011.”
The Australia Highlanders qualified for the Grade 1 Final at the 2009 World Pipe Band Championships, and then finished fourteenth overall in the 14-band Final competition