Highland gathering after new members

February 3rd, 2024Highland gathering after new members

Want to be a part of one of the longest running heritage festivals in Daylesford? Then you need to keep a couple of dates free.

Want to be a part of one of the longest running heritage festivals in Daylesford? Then you need to keep a couple of dates free.

The Daylesford Highland Gathering, founded in 1952, is keen to hear from people from all walks of life who would like to become members – and hopefully committee members.

The current committee, made up of John McColl (president), David Smith (vice president), Anne Heriot (secretary), Bob Orr (treasurer and life member), Keith and Rosalind Pyers (life members), Rhonda Smith and Barbara McColl, have given 20 years of service – Keith and Rosalind have actually clocked up 40 years each – and would like to see some new blood, and perhaps younger people, take over.

John said most of the committee were at the “retiring stage” and while they had enjoyed seeing the December festival thrive, it was time to step down.

“We are holding a public meeting for new members to sign up in February and then we hope that some of them will take up committee positions at the AGM in March.”

Anne said her involvement was all about the Scottish heritage of the event – and a long-held love of Scottish dancing.

“I started as a Highland dancer here when I was just four years old and I danced every year for 14 years. I love the history of the event and we want that to continue for another 72 years at least.

“I still dance with the Ballarat Scottish Country Dancing Association in Daylesford’s Masonic Hall every fortnight – and we all danced at the event last year. It’s always lots of fun.”

Keith said a new committee would be offered as much assistance as needed and with 20 years of hard work already done, all the processes were well in place.

“We have a very strong financial position, thanks to our strong and perhaps partly Scottish committee, and we built a great shed at Victoria Park which has the latest equipment in it.

“The Hepburn Shire Council has been very supportive each year and we also get excellent support from local businesses.

“It’s also great from a volunteer point of view that you hold the gathering in December and then it’s pretty much time out until October apart from a few things to tie up.

“We’ve also just recruited the Daylesford Football Netball Club to help with some of the heavy lifting in the leadup and on the day.

“It’s a very viable operation and this wonderful group of people are only stepping away because they are getting a little older. Being able to continue this heritage is something to be very proud of.”

A public meeting to recruit new members will be held at the Mitchell Hall in Daylesford (next to the Uniting Church in Central Springs Road) on Wednesday, February 21 at 7.30pm. The AGM will then be held at the same venue on Wednesday, March 6 at 7.30pm.

The history of the Daylesford Highland Gathering Founded in 1952 the Scottish festival has become an integral part of Daylesford’s diverse culture. It is the second-oldest event in the local calendar, runner-up only to the Daylesford & District Agricultural Show, which started in 1865.

Held in early December it is the first event of the new season of Highland Gatherings in Victoria each year with its location of Victoria Park offering a beautiful summer setting.

Hepburn Shire Council has helped the committee for 40 years with shire workers erecting the dancing platforms and ensuring Victoria Park is in its best condition.

Since the foundation years in the 1950s many distinguished citizens have acted as Official Openers and taken on the honourable role of Chieftain.

The list is impressive and includes state governors, current and ex state premiers, police commissioners, federal and state ministers, future prime ministers, local MPs (both state and federal)
and even a bishop.

A red-letter day was when Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop graced the event as a dignitary.

The Daylesford Highland Gathering is now an important part of local experience and brings colour and music to the community as well as drawing attention to the strong Scottish ancestry of Victoria’s Western District.

Words: Donna Kelly. Committee image: Kyle Barnes. File image: Contributed

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