Colin’s musical inspiration earns home town award

Colin Kemp with the Jim Oliver award presented by the Merchant Company
Colin Kemp with the Jim Oliver award presented by the Merchant Company

WITH a massive contribution to the development of music and musicians in his native town of Selkirk, Colin Kemp was the worthy recipient of the James Oliver Memorial Award.

The presentation, at the winter function of Selkirk Merchant Company, recognises outstanding service to the community – an accolade evoking, since 2001, the memory of the late Jim Oliver, a former master and standard bearer of the company.

Colin joins an elite group of 10 people who have won the award since its inception and, although selected by the company, it is widely acknowledged that the recipient is chosen for his or her services to the entire town and wider community.

Colin has played the cornet since he was aged 11 and by his early teens had become principal cornet player with Selkirk Silver Band, competing nationally and becoming Scottish schools champion at the age of 16.

He took a teacher-training course in Northampton and eventually the post of brass instructor for Selkirk, Galashiels and Peebles schools. He became conductor of the Silver Band in 1985, since when it has progressed from fourth section right up to first and qualified for the national finals – twice in London and once in Harrogate.

As well as conducting, Colin was involved in forming the town’s junior band and, recently, the beginners’ section, dedicating a formidable number of hours to practising and playing. His wife Lynne, daughter Hannah and son Callum are also cornet players – and 10-year-old Hannah is already winning competition cups.

Colin has given proud service to the young people of the Borders through the teaching of brass instruments, and the encouragement he has provided to those in the Selkirk area has enabled some to rise through the ranks of the town’s high school band and the various stages of the Silver Band.

The gathering heard from Merchant Company Master Neville Dundas, who made the presentation, that Colin’s contribution to the community through his leadership of the silver band and his efforts to ensure it will continue to flourish and provide the essential musical accompaniment for the town for years to come was “simply immense”.

Neville told the company: “Having in Selkirk someone of Colin’s tremendous talent who gives so willingly of his time for the benefit of the whole community made him the unanimous choice for this year’s award.”

Colin also received a certificate to accompany the award from Merchant Company Standard Bearer Jim Harold.