Innerleithen Pipe Band Championships take place this weekend

Massed  Bands at Innerleithen. Photo: Graham Riddell.Massed  Bands at Innerleithen. Photo: Graham Riddell.
Massed Bands at Innerleithen. Photo: Graham Riddell.
All roads lead to Innerleithen on Saturday, June 4, when the cream of Pipe Bands from all over south east central Scotland will descend to compete in the annual Innerleithen Pipe Band Championships held in Victoria Park.

Allan Johnston, of the St Ronan’s Piping Society, who runs the competition, said: “The contest will feature 19 performances with bands from Grades 2, 3, 4, Novice Juvenile and a Grade 4 March, Strathspey & Reel Competition.

“There will also be a Drum Majors Dress and Flourish Competition.

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"So, there will be something for everyone and at the end of the day we will be handing out a fine array of trophies and prize money amounting to more than £2,500 to the successful bands.

Colonel John Purves MBE is looking forward to his role as Chieftain.Colonel John Purves MBE is looking forward to his role as Chieftain.
Colonel John Purves MBE is looking forward to his role as Chieftain.

"In addition to the fine Pipe Band music there will be an array of stalls, a children’s fun fair, pony rides, ice cream and a snack bar.

Allan added: “Our Chieftain this year needs no introduction, having had a prestigious career in the military; Colonel John Purves MBE.

"John is a weel kent face in his home town of Walkerburn and was commissioned into the 10th Princess Mary’s Own Gurkha Rifles, and served in Hong Kong, Nepal, Korea, Malaysia and Brunei as well as the UK and Europe until the 1980s.

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“He also served with The Black Watch in Northern Ireland in 1974 and spent some time in special forces.

John Purves as a young piper.John Purves as a young piper.
John Purves as a young piper.

“Piping is at the centre of John’s heart and who started his piping with Innerleithen Royal British Legion Pipe Band many moons ago.

"During his service, John acted as Pipe President for his Regiment’s Pipes and Drums and was the joint organiser of the Brigade of Gurkhas Beating of Retreat in Hong Kong in 1981.

“He was appointed a Member of the Military Division of the Order of the British Empire in 1985.

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“As a senior officer John served in the Ministry of Defence before taking up several appointments in various NATO headquarters, including a tour in Bosnia as Chief of Operations in the UN Command Headquarters and later in Italy as the Chief UN Liaison Officer at HQ 5th Allied Tactical Air Force in Vicenza.

“John left NATO to be Deputy Chief of Staff, London District from where he retired to Walkerburn.”

Looking ahead to the event, John told us: “This is a great honour and a privilege for me to be following in the footsteps of my late father Jack, a renowned and accomplished local piper and who was Chieftain in 2006, so the honour of being asked to be Chieftain is a bit like being invited home!

"I feel that it is vitally important that contests like this continue to thrive and that Pipe Bands throughout Scotland actively promote piping and drumming amongst our country’s children and young people.

"They are, after all, the future of our musical art.”

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John will take over the Chain of Office from 2019 Chieftain Stuart Robertson within Victoria Park at 10.45am on Saturday, and he’ll take the salute from the massed bands at 4.30pm (weather permitting) and will later be saluted by the participating bands as they parade from Hall Street, along the High Street about 5pm to 5.15pm and fall out in Leithen Road.

The competition will be fierce, and the piping will be first class, an event not to miss. Let the Battle of the Bands commence!

Entry to the event will be £3 (£2 conc), children under 16 free. Parking will be £3 per car.