Kintyre Schools Pipe Band wins shield at British championships

Kintyre Schools Pipe Band placed fourth place and won the New Forrest Shield at the British Pipe Band Championships. Photograph: Fiona Watson.
Kintyre Schools Pipe Band placed fourth place and won the New Forrest Shield at the British Pipe Band Championships. Photograph: Fiona Watson.

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Kintyre Schools Pipe Band (KSPB) returned to the competition arena last Saturday, for the first time since 2019.

And far from easing themselves in following the Covid-19 pandemic, the youngsters made their welcome return to the contest scene at the British Pipe Band Championships.

While all bands faced difficulties during the pandemic, it was a particularly challenging time for school bands, as age restrictions meant some members became too old to play.

KSPB is made up of players from S1 to S6 in Campbeltown Grammar School and, although the senior members were forced to leave the band, it was not possible to recruit new members for some time because of restrictions on playing certain musical instruments, including chanters and pipes.

This meant when new members were eventually able to be recruited, they all had to start from scratch and had very limited time to get up to speed before competing.

KSPB’s drum corps consists almost completely of players competing for the first time, while the pipers are a mix of experienced and newer players.

Due to so many band members playing for the first time, it was decided that KSPB would compete in the grade 4A section, rather than novice, so the band tutors could play with the youngsters to support them.

This year’s British championships were held at Battery Park, Inverclyde, and the early 5am departure from Campbeltown, to get there in time, must have been a bit of a shock to the system for the band’s newest members.

KSPB took to the field at 10.20am under the leadership of Pipe Major Fiona Mitchell and played a march, Strathspey and reel.

The tunes played were King George V’s Army, The Caledonian Canal and Lexy MacAskill.

KSPB took to the field at 10.20am under the leadership of Pipe Major Fiona Mitchell, left. Photograph: Gilbert McKillop.
KSPB took to the field at 10.20am under the leadership of Pipe Major Fiona Mitchell, left. Photograph: Gilbert McKillop.

There were lots of nervous parents around the arena as KSPB started to play but the band’s young pipers and drummers put in a great performance and gained a very credible fourth place, winning the New Forrest Shield at one of the biggest competitions in the piping calendar.

The tutors and players have to be congratulated on putting together such a good performance in such short time.

Later this year, they will be playing at the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow and at the Cowal Gathering in Dunoon, where it is hoped their successful start to the season can be continued.