The board of Cowal Highland Gathering (CHG) has today, ( 16th March), taken the difficult decision to cancel this year’s event, as a result of the continuing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
This was the announcement no-one wanted to make, but in order to protect the safety of competitors, visitors and the local community, as well as protecting the future of this world-famous event, CHG chair Ronnie Cairns said it was ‘inevitable’.
Cowal Highland Gathering is home to the World Highland Dancing Championships, Cowal Pipe Band Championship and Cowal International Heavy Athletics Championship, attracting in excess of 1,500 competitors each year.‘
With uncertainties over both national and international travel coupled with, as yet unknown restrictions around social distancing, it became clear the Gathering as we know it wouldn’t be able to go ahead,’ Ronnie said.
He continued: ‘Travel restrictions have the potential to deliver a devastating blow to the international Highland Dancing competitors in particular and would subsequently damage the integrity of the World Highland Dancing Championships.‘
Following last year’s Cowal Virtual Gathering we were confident we would be back in Dunoon Stadium in 2021 and have been working hard looking at ways of staging the Gathering both in familiar and different formats. However, it has become clear that the 2021 Gathering would be compromised, and following discussions with our sponsors, key stakeholders and organisations this is the right time to cancel this year’s event.‘
We know we will be disappointing all the thousands of people who come to compete, spectate or volunteer at Cowal Highland Gathering – as well as the wider local Cowal population who support the Gathering come rain or shine. ‘
However, while we can’t gather in person this year, we will be gathering again online as Cowal Highland Gathering moves back into its virtual space with Cowal’s Virtual Gathering.Chair of the Royal Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing (RSOBHD) Christine Lacey MBE said: ‘Sadly, once again, it has been a most difficult and complex decision for the Board of Cowal Highland Gathering to make. However, when you identify the basic elements to be considered within their decision-making process for all within our world-wide Highland Dancing community and the general public i.e., the health, safety, potential Covid -19 restrictions for travel both internationally and domestic, large gathering numbers and indeed the ability to plan, action and finance, then the decision is quite clear! We simply cannot take the risk with any of these elements or indeed any potential threat to health.
‘The Office Bearers of the RSOBHD have been included within this process and fully support and respect the outcome of the Cowal Board.
‘We truly acknowledge the immense disappointment once again each one of our dancers will undoubtedly experience, however please know that from adversity, with guidance, we can build from strength to strength.’
‘We will think positive thoughts for 2022 and very much look forward to returning once again to the world famous Cowal Highland Gathering and the World Highland Dancing Championships.’
Tickets already purchased for this year’s event will be valid for 2022, but if anyone has any questions please contact the CHG office at email@example.com
This is only the second time the 127-year-old event has been cancelled, apart from the war years, with the 2020 event also cancelled due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
All 2019 Cowal Highland Gathering trophy winners will be contacted in the next few months with details of how and when to return their trophies.
The 2022 Cowal Highland Gathering will return to Dunoon Stadium from Thursday 25 -Saturday 27 August.