March 16, 2022

Burke leaves RSPBA before she officially starts

After announcing in late December that Alison Burke hade been hired as the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s new chief executive and operations manager, the organization abruptly announced that the accomplished and award-winning leader has withdrawn from the role.

“After several weeks of familiarization with the role, she felt it was not what she expected when she accepted the position,” the association said in a statement.

No specifics were provided, and it was not clear at the time that her appointment was announced if she would work through a probationary period.

The organization held its online annual general meeting on Saturday, March 12th, but according to those who attended made no mention of the move.

“I don’t understand why they didn’t tell the membership at the AGM at the weekend,” said one RSPBA insider who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The Board don’t understand the value of honest transparency.”

The association has not made public any developments that arose at the AGM, which included a financial report that showed a deficit of nearly £30,000 for 2021 operations.

I don’t understand why they didn’t tell the membership at the AGM at the weekend. The Board don’t understand the value of honest transparency.

The RSPBA in the same statement said that Ian Embelton will once again remain in the position “until the Board of Directors review the situation.”

After 20 years in the role, Embelton had announced his retirement in 2020, and a search for his replacement commenced.

The prolonged pandemic resulted in Embelton agreeing to stay on until recruitment was concluded.

Burke would have been the first woman to lead the RSPBA and one of few to head a pipe band association of any kind. Her academic background includes a PhD, a Master of Letters, and a Master of Arts in Classics and Theatre from the University of Glasgow, and until August 2021 worked as the Park and Project Manager at Dalkeith Country Park southeast of Edinburgh, a historical estate featuring a kids’ adventure park, a café and a gift shop.

She had no apparent experience with or in-depth knowledge of pipe bands.

At publication time, the RSPBA had not responded to a request for further comment.



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