October 21, 2016

Whitehorse removed from Pipe Bands Australia

Pipe Bands Australia has “removed” the Grade 1 City of Whitehorse Pipe Band of Melbourne as a member of the association.

The PBA’s national council elected to proactively push City of Whitehorse out of the organization after “a culmination of a series of events since December 2014, including the suspension in June 2016 of five members of CoWPB.”

The suspension of the band members, including Pipe-Major George Shepherd and Lead-Drummer Olav Goud, stemmed from comments made on the band’s “private” Facebook page, where followers of the page were invited to make comments regarding a photo of PBA and RSPBA adjudicator Nat Russell wearing a promotional baseball cap of the Grade 1 Canterbury Caledonia Pipe Band of New Zealand. Russell was in the picture wearing the cap among Canterbury members who were celebrating their victory at the New Zealand Championships.

After the suspensions of the specific band members, and City of Whitehorse withdrew its membership from PBA, the band was allowed to compete at the 2016 Australian Championships in Sydney in September, provided the five suspended members did not enter the park.

City of Whitehorse competing at the 2016 Victorian Pipe Band Championships.

PBA based its decision to formally remove City of Whitehorse as a member-band, citing breaches of the stipulations and subsequent failure to apologize for the apparent breaches, which included Shepherd and Goud working with the band in final tuning. Though it performed, the band was disqualified from the Grade 1 Medley event.

A PBA statement said, “The ongoing conduct of the City of Whitehorse Pipe Band has been viewed with the gravest concern by National Council, particularly the impact of those actions on CoWPB’s players not in its leadership group. The Council has determined that such behaviour, given the ample time afforded to it to comply, will no longer be tolerated. As a result, the Band’s membership of PBA has been cancelled, and its players, with the exception of the five suspended members against whom penalties remain, are free to follow their musical pathways elsewhere.”

The association has reportedly retained legal counsel that is steering the process.

Whether City of Whitehorse continues as a band is to be seen. The band made a meteoric rise to the top grade after its inception as a Grade 2 band in 2014, and had planned to compete in Grade 1 at the 2017 World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow. Pipe bands cannot compete at sanctioned competitions such as the World’s without being a member of a recognized pipe band association.

“No one has, or is, leaving the band,” said Steven Young, a piper with the band. “In fact we have more new members asking to join. The messages of support from around the world is unbelievable. The PBA is making themselves look very silly in how they’ve handled this. The band will be carrying on as normal. We will be back competing soon.”

Young wouldn’t elaborate on what association the band will be a member of going forward. In general, recognized pipe band associations practice reciprocity on most levels, including disciplinary actions.

Originally from Fife, Scotland, Shepherd immigrated to Australia following his success with the Grade 1 Clan Gregor Pipe Band, taking it to the Grade 1 level before it dissolved. Originally from the Netherlands, Goud had been a member of the Grade 1 Glasgow Police Pipe Band of Scotland before moving to Australia.

Shepherd and PBA President Chris Earl had not provided comment at publication time. The story will be updated accordingly should they wish to respond to questions.

The PBA statement concluded with: “Pipe Bands Australia re-affirms its commitment to a friendly and supportive environment for the creation of music, where individuals are able to enjoy the pipe band experience without fear of any actions contrary to the Member Protection Policy and where the rules and regulations are duly observed for the benefit of all.”



  1. As an Australian in the world of pipe bands, I’m embarrassed that things have come to this. Any way you cut it, it is not a good look. I am firmly of the opinion that it is one of those situations that has ‘blown up’ through a series of unfortunate and unintended events. In another time and place, and with very slightly different actions by people involved, I am convinced this would have amounted to nothing. But unfortunately, things have gone the way they have, and now there is a diabolical mess to be resolved somehow.

    I consider myself fairly well informed about the story on both sides, and I am personally acquainted with many of the individuals concerned directly on both sides of this issue as well. With that said, I remain entirely neutral in this comment, which is on another aspect of the whole saga.

    What has concerned and irritated me is the number of people – globally – on social media, who have no connection with the parties involved, or knowledge and understanding of the situation, who feel the need to vociferously commentate upon, and judge what is going on. Journalistic reporting in one thing, but the mindless, ill-informed comments of the type that are popping up all over the place are not helping the situation, and may well be inflaming it.

    P|D has comment before on the impact of social media in our world of pipe bands in various ways and this is another case in point of the negative aspects. My wish – entirely futile as it may be – is that people who are not involved in, and are uninformed about this matter, do keep their comments to themselves. Perhaps those who do have more knowledge should also ‘pipe down’ and let things progress without adding to the furore?



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