School of Hard Knox: a missing entry, a 17,000 km trip, and a $240,000 investment
attempted to negotiate with the RSPBA to allow the boys to compete at Forres.
On May 29th the band appealed for saner heads to prevail, “We are 100% on the level that our entry was posted on . . . May 1st as advised in our previous correspondence. Please take into consideration the 1/4 million dollar expenses that we are outlaying to bring a band from the other side of the world to compete at this contest – and the potential disappointment that 32 school age students would endure to travel to Scotland from Australia to not be able to compete! This would be devastating.”
With almost the entire quarter-million-dollar trip bought and paid for, Knox Pipe Band Master Ainsley Hart in a last-ditch effort in a June 3rd message to Embelton stated, “We are willing to do whatever required to achieve a positive outcome and enable our boys to compete.”
The answer remained negative.
Embelton, who necessarily relies on decisions of this nature to be made by his board of directors, attempted to work with the Forres organizers to allow Knox to perform at the opening and closing ceremonies. The RSPBA offered that the band would be “welcome to join the final Massed Band parade and be introduced to the crowd.
Rather than suffer the ignominy of attending the European as the band whose $240,000 entry was rejected, Knox Grammar School opted instead to attend the Ceres Highland Games on the same day, and a few of the pipers competed in the junior solo competitions there.
Sources with the Knox Grammar School Pipe Band said that they attempted to contact the RSPBA in April and May on “no fewer than three occasions” and received no reply.
“Their system of entry has no safety net, there is no confirmation of receipt of an entry,” the source said on condition of anonymity. “The RSPBA is quick to point out that this has happened before, yet there is no suggestion on their entry form that registered post should be used. The charter of the RSPBA is ‘to promote worldwide piping and drumming’? Such a decision by their Directors was based on precedent (apparently way back when Field Marshal Montgomery was denied entry into a contest), so, rather than learning from a previously stupid and unpopular decision, they replicated it for good order. I am quite confident that no one previously affected by such a ruling would have any problem with a Novice Juvenile band from Australia coming to compete.”
While most of the world’s pipe band associations have moved to more foolproof online entry systems that confirm receipt, the RSPBA still requires bands to submit paper entries to major championships, including the World’s, by mail or courier, along with a hand-written cheque or money-order. Bands must confirm entry on their own. The Northern Ireland Branch of the RSPBA has implemented an online entry system.
Despite the extraordinary circumstances, the story has stayed unusually quiet. The RSPBA suspended 16-time World Solo Pipe Band Drumming Champion Jim Kilpatrick . . .