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Question mark over future of Grade 1 band

Pipe Bands by Mervyn McConnell

THERE is a big question mark over the future of Grade 1 Strathclyde Police Pipe Band, record winners of the world championships 14 times.

According to sources within the band, funding has been withdrawn due to cut backs within the police force.

Strathclyde Police first won the world championship title in 1949 under Pipe Major J. McDonald. But nothing touched the success of Pipe Major Ian MacLellan B.E.M. who led the band in winning 12 out of their 14 world victories. The band also set up a record of wins from 1981 to 1986, under Pipe Major Ian MacLellan, winning the world championship title 6 times in succession. This success remains a milestone that is unbeaten up to the present.

Pipe Major Don Bradford, a piper with the Strathclyde Police, was appointed last season as Pipe Major, and along with Leading Drummer Eric Ward, led the band to many successes including 6th at the 2008 world championships. Both men are from Northern Ireland.

The third annual Strathclyde Police junior solo competition took place recently in Smithcroft School, Glasgow with a record number of 208 entries. Many travelled over from Northern Ireland to compete at this event.

Solo piper, Bradley Parker from Portavogie, competed against an entry of 38 in the under 15 jig, an entry of 41 in the strathspey and reel and an entry of 26 in the Piobaireachd.

Last year Bradley was successful in winning the overall under 15 section title, and he lifted the title again this year. He took 3rd in the jig, 1st March, 3rd Strathspey and Reel and 5th in the Piobaireachd giving him the championship title.

Adjudicators included Pipe Major Don Bradford, Barry Donaldson, Donald MacKay, Angus J.MacLellan, Gordon McCready, William Geddes, James McLean, Duncan Nicholson, James Semple Gavin Walker and James Wark.

Fivemiletown Pipe Band are celebrating the news that the band will be competing this season. Fivemiletown were one of the top bands in Grade 3 but it is about 15 years since they competed in any competitions.

Pipe Major Ken Morrow has said that the band is beginning to build up well with 9 pipers, and the 5 drummers under their new Leading Tip Nigel Anthony. This is Nigel's first attempt at leading the drum corps, and along with Pipe Sergeant Sammy Kyle, the future looks promising for the band.

They hope to compete in Grade 4B and if anyone is interested in joining them they will be made very welcome. They practise every Monday evening around 8pm and Ken can be contracted for further information on 07778 528446.

And another band, Geoghegan from Loughbrickland, Banbridge, have also high hopes of entering the piping arena this season.

Under their new Leading Tip Thomas Carey and Pipe Major Trevor Weir, the band will compete in Grade 4.

A number of years ago, Geoghegan had many successes in local competitions accumulating in winning the world championship title. But due to lack of pipers the band folded. Now Pipe Major Trevor Weir, who has been Pipe Major for many years, will combine his expertise along with the expertise of Thomas Carey to lead the band in the new season. Thomas has been leading drummer with Dromara and Banbridge drum corps.

The Annual General Meeting of the RSPBA will take place on Saturday March 14 in Glasgow.

The Northern Ireland branch is keen to have as many representatives as possible attending this important meeting, and are offering a 50% subsidy on fares.

The boat will leave on Friday at 5 pm and return on Saturday at 8pm with one nights stay in Glasgow. Please contact Mervyn Herron as soon as possible on 07702681189 or 028406 24829 for further details. The Co. Antrim Solos will take place on Saturday March 7 at Trinity Methodist Church Flail Knockmore Road, Lisburn at 1pm. Please note this replaces the Seven Towers Solos.

Due to the increased interest in the solos, the categories of junior and intermediate drumming have been added.

Band members can use the same form and simply mark junior or intermediate when stating the grade. Also please note the 2009 Festival of Solo Piping and Drumming will take place on Saturday April 25 at Monkstown Community School. Entry forms have been sent out to all secretaries but copies can be obtained from Mervyn Herron contest administrator on 028 4062 4849. Closing date April 4.

Ulster Star