Lynne Mowbray The annual scholarship awards presented each Easter at the Maclean Highland Gathering to encourage competitors, has not been overlooked despite this year’s Gathering being cancelled due to COVID-19. This year’s scholarships were presented on Saturday in Maclean to two Scottish dancers Leah Jenkins and Lara Farwell and two pipers Connor Lothian and Luke Moloney. Lower Clarence Scottish Association Chief Peter Smith said that each year the Clarence Valley Council (CVC) sponsor local competitors in dancing, drumming, and piping, with scholarships of $300 each. “Competitors have been sponsored for approximately the last 10 years, and we thank council very much for their support in this event,” Peter said. “Our culture needs to keep going and by doing this, it sort of ensures that our local competitors have something to work towards and it helps them in their lessons and the gear that they need to buy,” he said. Mr Smith said that other awards are also presented at the Gathering each year by private sponsors, to encourage senior events such as ‘the local champion’ award. “Sponsorship is very important and each year the judges award them, to not necessarily the best competitor, but to those that they think need encouraging; to help them to keep going,” he said. “We’ve been going since 1893 and it’s important that our Scottish culture keeps going here in Maclean,” he said. Secretary of the Lower Clarence Scottish Association Alister Smith said that normally they would have the adjudicators from each of the events decide on the scholarships. “This year, with no Highland Gathering in place (due to COVID-19), we spoke to the local dancing tutors and piping tutors and asked them to make an assessment of who they thought, out of their pipers and dancers, were to the standard and we’ve awarded the scholarships on that basis,” Alister said.