Pipers storm to national title after deciding to band together for 2011

THE newly-formed Scottish Borders Pipe Band stormed its way to first prize at the Scottish Pipe Band Championships.

The collaboration of Stow and Hawick pipe bands blew their way to the Scottish title at a rain-sodden Dumbarton for a fabulous start in what promises to be a successful musical journey.

The move to play together came last autumn when both bands reached the same conclusion that they were about to encounter problems which might prevent them from competing at all in 2011.

At Hawick, there was a shortage of pipers due to players moving away from the town, and at Stow, the lead drummer had to undergo a major operation on his wrist.

Bass drummer Alistair Glendinning said: “The solution was obvious. Rather than both bands not competing in 2011, the decision was taken to join forces and compete as a new joint band under a new name.

“After an initial meeting, two new pipe bands were proposed, the Scottish Borders Pipe Band and the Scottish Borders Juvenile Pipe Band.

”The new bands exist only for competing purposes, with Hawick and Stow maintaining their own identities for all of their usual annual duties and performances.”

The juvenile band gives younger players the opportunity to play at major events such as the World Championships and the famous Cowal Games, and consists of players from Melrose as well as Stow and Hawick.

“I’m absolutely delighted to lead the junior band,” said Alan Smith of Hawick. “The standards in the juvenile grade are exceptionally high, with bands such as George Watson’s and Boghall and Bathgate leading the way.

“At our first outing at a major competition, the Scottish Championships, the juvenile band was placed 11th out of 20 bands. That is a very encouraging start and we hope to make great progress over the next couple of years.”

The adult band has also made a very impressive start to competing under the new name.

Piper Kevin Laidlaw added: “To win the Scottish Championships in our first outing together at a ‘major’ is absolutely amazing.

“The weather made it extremely difficult for everybody, but we certainly kept our best performance of the day for when we were in the competition ring.”