Galashiels piper Drew hailed a band stalwart during surprise presentation
There can be few pipers in the Borders pipe band scene who can boast as long or illustrious a career as Drew Ness.
The twice former pipe major of Galashiels Ex-Servicemen’s Pipe Band has been marching the streets of his hometown with the band since the early 1950s, having taken up the bagpipes aged just eight.
And on Remembrance Sunday, the 76-year-old was thanked by his band mates for years of service with a surprise “This is your Life” style presentation and a gift, in front of packed audience in the Royal British Legion.
Apart from a brief interlude, to spend time concentrating on other musical interests, father-of-three Drew has been a mainstay in the band, holding the position of pipe major from 1962 to 1969 and again from 2010 to 2018.
Fellow Gala piper Billy Easson, who paid tribute to Drew during the presentation, said: “I don’t think there is another piper, or even musician, as good as Drew anywhere in the Borders.
“He can play any instrument and has a great understanding of how music should be put together.
“Everyone at the band is extremely grateful to Drew for all he has done over the decades.”
Drew’s in-road into piping began with a chanter his mother bought him in Edinburgh.
By the age of eight he was playing pipes, and since joining the ranks of the Gala pipe band has been at the front of dozens of remembrance day parades and Braw Lads Gathering celebrations.
An accomplished musician, Drew spent his younger years playing a number of different instruments including saxophone and clarinet, in bands such as The Bandits, The Metronomes, The Galaleans and The J.E.W.D.
He took time away from the band to concentrate on these other musical commitments, but has served consistently again cine the early 1990s.
He passed over the pipe major’s banner to Billy Easson junior last year, but remains an active member of the pipe corps today.
He’s taught dozens of youngsters over the years, raised thousands of pounds through fundraising draws, served as quartermaster and as band chairman, helped produce CD of the band’s music and still composes and arranges tunes for the band.
“We are the only band in the Border to play Floo’ers o’ the Forest slightly different to everybody else, and that’s down to Drew,” Billy added. “It’s not just his piping ability that should be admired, but his ability to understand, compose and arrange music.”