Local pipers add to silverware at Melrose contest

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)

PIPERS and highland dancers from around the globe descended on the Borders at the weekend for the 17th annual staging of the Melrose Pipe Band Championships and Highland Dance Contest.

Held in the town’s Gibson Park, the event saw fierce competition for the trophies up for grabs. The top pipe band prize, for bands competing at Grade 2 level, went to the Boghall & Bathgate Pipe Band.

The Grade 3 title went to George Watson’s College Juvenile Pipe Band, while the world championship-winning Scottish Borders Pipe Band took the Grade 4 championships.

The Grade 4 MSR (March, Strathspey & Reel combination) prize went to George Watson’s College Novice Juvenile Pipe Band, while the drum major juvenile title went to Cameron Finch, of Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia.

As well as the pipe band champions, there was fierce competition in the highland dancing classes with dancers from as far afield as the United States travelling to take part.

Event organiser Ian Graham says attendances at the 2011 contest were on a par with last year’s championships.

“There was a very good turnout and all those taking part seemed to really enjoy themselves,” Ian told TheSouthern this week.

“The weather was just magical and that always really helps get the crowds out.”

And there will be a chance to enjoy even more top quality piping this Sunday, when Floors Castle at Kelso hosts its Massed Pipe Bands Day, when more than 150 pipes and drums will congregate for a spectacular musical gathering.

An extra special added attraction for this year – and for the very first time in Scotland – will be the Household Cavalry performing its world-famous Musical Ride, as special guests of the Duke and Duchess of Roxburghe and the British Horse Society.

The Household Cavalry’s performance will be a fitting way to mark this year’s 10th anniversary of the Borders Festival of the Horse.

The Musical Ride was first performed in 1882 and has not been seen in Scotland for decades. It showcases a complex display of military and equine skills set to music.

Much of the ride is performed at the gallop and it features 26 troopers and horses, chosen from the squadrons of the Life Guards and The Blues and Royals regiments of Household Cavalry, which is based at Knightsbridge in London.

Other entertainment will includes highland dancing, archery, speycasting clinics, falconry and estate and garden tours.