Call for help from Blackburn Gala Day

Gala day has long been big in Blackburn. Picture: Stan Warburton

Gala day has long been big in Blackburn. Picture: Stan Warburton

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IT’S been part of town life for more than a century ... but a lack of interest could put a much-loved summer celebration in jeopardy.

Blackburn Gala Day, which has run annually for more than 100 years, is in danger of cancellation because so few people have volunteered to help organise it.

Only four people turned up to a committee meeting held on Monday night, where typically a dozen would be present.

The “shocking” apathy has led to warnings this year’s event will not happen unless locals pitch in.

Davie Richardson, the recently appointed chairman of the 102-year-old event, has organised a leaflet drop and called an emergency meeting on April 11 to determine whether this year’s gala – scheduled for June 8 – will go ahead.

He said: “Unfortunately, overall support from people in these organisational stages has been pretty shocking, to be honest.

“Some long-term members of the committee had resigned last year after many years of service and it’s been extremely difficult to fill those positions. For example, we have no vice-president or treasurer. It also seems to be the same core of about 100 people that attend the fundraising events we run throughout the year.

“Yet on the day of the gala itself, just about everyone in town turns out to line the streets. People seem to think the festival just happens – it does not. It takes a lot of organisation and roughly £13,000 a year.”

The chairman refuted claims made by a member of the public on West Lothian Council’s Facebook page that gala events have been marred by excessive drinking.

He said: “I can categorically guarantee that is not the case. It’s been illegal to drink in public since 2003 and we take steps to ensure alcohol is not being consumed outside.”

Alison Kerr, chairwoman of Blackburn Community Council, said the committee had become “victims of their own success”.

She explained: “Because it’s such a fantastic, well-run event I think a lot of locals think that their help isn’t needed, but they’d be wrong.”

Dave King, West Lothian Council’s executive councillor for culture and leisure, commented: “I really hope that people will join – many hands make light work.”

BATHGATE HOSTS PIPE BAND EVENT

TRY getting this lot to pipe down.

West Lothian will play host to the British Pipe Band Championship this year. The event, which takes place in the Meadow Park in Bathgate on Saturday May 25, will feature more than 130 bands and 3,500 pipers of all ages.

Matt Purdie, president of the West Lothian Highland Games, said Bathgate will host the championships for the next three years – a huge boost for the area and one that is expected to bring thousands of pounds into the local economy.

He said: “It is a huge honour to have secured such a wonderful event. This move marks a return to hosting major competitions. Not only are we encouraging people from further afield but we want people closer to home to experience what is set to be a very memorable occasion.”

Alex Linkston, chairman of the organising committee, said crowds will be wowed by the pipers.

He said: “We’re expecting a crowd of 10,000 to 12,000 for what will be a fantastic event, with lots for the kids to do.”

To find out more and to book tickets go to www.bpbc-bathgate.com.