The clans make big plans
By JURIS GRANEY
THIS year's 102nd Maclean Highland Gathering will step back in history with well-known Clarence Valley local Neil Gregor opening proceedings.
Mr Gregor, who was born and bred in Maclean, has strong Scottish links.
"(Living here) has given me an appreciation of the value of the Highland Gathering to the Maclean community and what the Scottish heritage means to the dedicated workers who put so much time and effort into continuing the tradition of this gathering," he said.
"My Gregor ancestors came originally from the Isle of Skye in the mid-1850s.
"My grandfather Donald played the pipes in the Maclean Band along with his brother Frank and later my uncle Colin Gregor was also a band member and became Drum Major and also the Chieftain of the Maclean Lower Clarence Scottish Association.
"Along with the Gregor connection I have my paternal grandmother who came from the McPherson Clan, my maternal grandmother was a Stewart and my wife a Sutherland so I feel I have a deep if somewhat mixed attachment to the Scottish heri- tage.
"Therefore it is an honour to be asked to open the 102nd annual Maclean Highland Gathering in 2006 and I wish the association every success with this event."
Lower Clarence Scottish Association Chief Peter Smith said he was thrilled to have Mr Gregor open the weekend of festivities, which will bring an esti- mated $500,000 into the local economy.
Crowds this year will be delighted with the traditional Scottish sounds of no less than 25 bands.
Musicians from across the State and north over the border in Queensland will make the journey to Maclean this weekend to compete in what should be one of the most outstanding street parades and Scottish pipe band competitions.
Spectators can expect to hear the sounds of the Noosa and District Pipe Band, the Inverell Pipe Band and the Tamworth and District Pipe Band ? just to name a few.
This year, Greg Ellery, a legendary piper from Auckland in New Zealand, will visit Maclean for the first time to judge.