THE world's oldest pipe band competition has secured funding to expand this year despite losing its status as a "major" championship.

The Cowal Highland Gathering will receive £68,025 from Argyll and Bute in a decision which organisers said was a vote of confidence in the event. Last year the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association removed the "major" status from the event, held in Dunoon in August, which brings in £2 million to the economy.

Event chairman Ronnie Cairns said it would now be expanded to give it a "festival-type feel". He said: "This reinforces our ambition to ensure that this year's Cowal Highland Gathering once again proves to be one of Scotland's premier family events."

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