THE Ashbourne Highland Gathering has been cancelled, organisers have announced, leaving the future of the cherished event hanging in the balance.
District council bosses withdrew permission for the Scottish festival following an inspection of the waterlogged recreation ground, forcing organisers to pull the plug ahead of the Sunday event.
This marks the second time the Highland Gathering has been cancelled, leaving the event’s coffers in a ‘critical’ state. Its future will depend on the results of an insurance payout due to be arranged in the coming weeks.
Secretary Warwick Adams, one of a team of eight people who spend months organising the event, said the decision was disappointing, but the right one to make.
He said: “We did a ground inspection on Friday and you know what the weather was like on that day. The decision was made to have a look again on Monday but then we didn’t know the forecast.
“We went to have a look and there was just so much water. If you stamp your feet there’s just water. We can’t fault the council for their decision, it would just have been stupid, to be honest.” The once-healthy bank account which funds the massive one-day event each year has taken a battering after a string of disastrous weekends dogged by wet weather resulting in one previous cancellation and a succession of poor turnouts.
Mr Adams confessed that the already high insurance costs could now spell an end for the tradition. He said: “We do have insurance and that should cover it, but it really depends on how much we come in under our claim limit and then how much the premium will be for the following year.
“It is now critical and I don’t know whether this will be the end of the gathering or not.” Mr Adams also expressed his disappointment for all the organisations which rely on the gathering, the largest of its kind outside Scotland.