Scottish independence vote will not affect Harpenden Highland Gathering, says Mayor

Harpenden Highland Gathering 2014

Harpenden Highland Gathering 2014 - Credit: Archant

Will today’s independence vote have an effect on Harpenden’s annual celebration of all things Scottish – the Highland Gathering?

Organisers the Harpenden Lions Club certainly aren’t saying anything – their charter prevents members from debating partisan politics so they refused to comment on the event’s future.

But other promiment members of the Harpenden community have offered their own opinions on this popular fundraising event, and whether a “yes” vote for Scottish independence today would actually change the way it is run.

The first local Highland Games was organised in 1946 by the St Albans and Mid-Herts Caledonian Society, apparently as a fundraising event to assist Scottish engineers who had been working in local aircraft factories during the Second World War but left unemployed during peacetime.

It continued supporting Scottish charities throughout the 1950s, but was then curtailed until its modern-day revival in 1996 under the auspices of the local Lions Club.

Current Town Mayor Cllr Mary Maynard actually moved here from Glasgow in 1972, and has never quite shaken off her accent.

She said: “I think that the Highland Gathering will remain a central event in Harpenden and will continue to flourish, irrespective of the outcome of the referendum.

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“If the Scots do vote for independence, which I hope they won’t, it will give the Gathering a sense of exotic difference and foreignness which will make it even more special. If they vote to stay together, we will continue to celebrate the northern part of our joint cultural heritage.”

Keith Lunn, chairman of Harpenden Retail Partnership, said: “Whatever happens I would hope the Highland Gathering continues!

“The fact that Scotland may be independent next year shouldn’t matter, it’s a great family day out and brings a lot of people into Harpenden and raises lots of money for local charities.”

Harpenden Independent Partnership co-founder Carol Hedges said: “I have never really seen the ‘’Highland’’ connection between Scotland and Harpenden to begin with – so the disparity between what happens now would merely replicate itself in the future.

“We are already twinned with Cosne-sur-Loire and Alzey so maybe we could be twinned with Scotland and move the whole think up a gear into a formal ceremony – with diplomatic protocols, mayoral and an exchange of suitable gifts?”

The result of the Scottish independence vote will be known later today (Thursday). Should the “yes” camp seize victory, do you think the Harpenden Highland Gathering should continue celebrating Scottish traditions? Email