Band ends year on a high note

MELROSE, UNITED KINGDOM - 20 Aug 2011: 'Melrose Pipe Band Championships &       'Highland Dance Contest 201, Gibson Park, Melrose'''(Photo by Rob Gray / Freelance)

MELROSE, UNITED KINGDOM - 20 Aug 2011: 'Melrose Pipe Band Championships & 'Highland Dance Contest 201, Gibson Park, Melrose'''(Photo by Rob Gray / Freelance)

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THE Scottish Borders Pipe Band which swept the board this year has been promoted to Grade 3 – and will face tougher challenges in 2012.

The world champions, comprising mostly of pipers and drummers from Hawick and Stow bands, will be looking to drum up even more support as they enter a new field of competition. And they have won praise from semi-retired Stow drummer and Scottish Borders councillor Sandy Aitchison.

He said: “They just performed beyond anybody’s expectations and it was wonderful to see the reward for all their hard work needed. For a band to become Champion of Champions in the major championships in their first year of existence is great – and the Lothian and Borders Pipe Band Association has a bunch of winners on their patch which lifts the piping scene in the area. And for a new band to go to the world championships and get first from all four judges is unusual and remarkable.”

Mr Aitchison added: “There is a lot of talent in the band and now the hard work really begins because moving into Grade 3B means they have to play against higher-standard bands than they have competed against in the past – and that means more difficult sets to play and the practice becomes more intense.

“I know that under the leadership of Pipe Major Stuart Robinson they will give it their best shot. One great thing, though, is that the piping and the drumming schools have established themselves, and so there is now hope for the future in that we are training youngsters with top-class tuition and that has to be good.

“That is a Stow Pipe Band initiative and the support of the wind farm money is sustaining that, meaning the band has a more secure future than it probably has had for many years.”

The councillor explained: “Stow is only one part of this Scottish Borders Band and credit also goes to Hawick Pipe Band and a lot of players from Galashiels as well who have contributed to the excellent overall sound and, therefore, the success.”