PP Ed’s Blog: British at Paisley/ Canada’s Sherriff Contest/ Glenfiddich

Most people have been very pleased with the RSPBA’s decision to opt for Paisley as the host for next year’s British Pipe Band Championships – and for 2017/18. What it does mean is that three of the major championships on the RSPBA calendar are now being held in west-central Scotland: the Worlds at Glasgow Green, the Scottish at Dumbarton and now the British at Paisley. Belfast gets the UK Championships and Forres, in the north-east, the European.

I suppose a good case could be made for this part of the country (Glasgow) being regarded as the spiritual and actual home of the pipe band movement. After all the RSPBA (SPBA then) was founded on a boat back from Cowal Games following a suggestion from P/M Willie Sloan (pictured) of the Clan MacLean band, this back in the 1930s.

Until the RSPBA’s own World Championship was instituted after WW2, the main event was always Cowal – again west-central Scotland. For many years the Europeans were at that haven of sunshine Shotts, the British at Renfrew and the Scottish in Edinburgh. So the Central Belt, if not always the west, has been where most of the action has taken place in the 70 – odd years of the Association’s existence.

St James Playing Fields, Paisley, the venue for the British Pipe Band Championships 2016 -18

The proximity of Glasgow Airport (the noise from aircraft won’t be an issue despite what one of our correspondents has written), good rail and road infrastructure and lots of affordable accommodation make the city and its environs the ideal place for these championships. And the RSPBA HQ is here too. But let’s not forget one other thing: the love of piping and pipe bands is entrenched in the local psyche. The influx of Highlanders and Irish over the decades added to the Lowland mix and made it so.

Ridiculed by comedians and the man in the pub yes; but deep down the people know piping and pipe bands are a good thing, their heritage, the mother lode of their culture. That is why they tune in their thousands to watch the BBC’s broadcast of the Worlds: the figures for 2015 were well over 500,000 with 20% of the entire country’s viewing public tuning in to watch the Jackie and Bob show. Very satisfying for all concerned and for those of us who campaigned for the televising of this great event all those years ago.

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Still with Bob (Worrall), he has sent this re the George Sherriff amateur competition: ‘The 10 contestants for the 20th Annual 2015 George Sherriff Amateur Invitational Piping Championship have been finalised.  The competition will take place on November 21st at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, 70 James Street South, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  These players represent the top amateur pipers from throughout Canada and the United States.  Five of the contestants are returning performers.  Five are competing for the first time in the prestigious ‘Sherriff’.
• Tyler Bridge, Ontario • James Dyson, Nova Scotia • Austin Diepenhorst, California • Andrew Hutton, Ontario • Kevin McLean, British Columbia • Ryan Praskovich, Pennsylvania • Sean Regan, Virginia • Christian Rhoads, Missouri • Blaise Theriault, Nova Scotia • Jack Toohey, Oregon

This year’s adjudicators are Ian Duncan, Andrea Boyd and Andrew Berthoff.  Patricia Kirkwood will be this year’s M.C. The timing of the events on November 21st are as follows: 6/8 Marches – 10 a.m./ Piobaireachd – 1 p.m./March, Strathspey and Reel – 7:30 p.m.; Admission for the day is $10 (adults) and $5 (students). All bands, individuals and organisations sponsoring the event will get complementary admission for all three events. All sponsors will appear in the programme for the competition and will be published on the PPBSO website.

Sponsorship is necessary to cover the costs associated with the competition.  If you, your band, business, or organization wishes to help sponsor the event, please contact Bob Worrall at robertworrall@cogeco.ca or call 905-335-0110.  Please make cheques payable to the ‘George Sherriff Memorial Invitational Competition’.  Thanks once again to all those who have helped sponsor the event over the last 20 years.  Without your help none of this would be possible. At this time, I would like to extend a very heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the following sponsors:
Anonymous, in memory of Ed Neigh, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Pipe Band, Atlantic Canada Pipe Band Association, Bob Worrall and Todd Weleschuk in memory of Ed Neigh, David and Anne Gomme, Eastern United States Pipe Band Association, Ben Bhraggie House, Ltd., British Columbia Pipers, Brown Bagpipe Supply, City of Regina Pipe Band, Dofasco Pipe Band, Dunaber Music, Dundas Pipes and Drums, Georgetown Highland Games, Glengarry Highland Games, Hamilton Police Service Pipe Band, Iain MacDonald (
reelpipes.com), London Firefighters Pipe Band, Niagara­ Hamilton Branch, PPBSO, McCallum Bagpipes, Northbridge Insurance, Ottawa Branch, PPBSO, Ottawa Police Pipe Band, Parent Body, PPBSO, Paris/Port Dover Pipe Band, R. G. Hardie and Co. Ltd., Pipes|Drums Magazine/GHB Communications, Rob Roy Pipe Band and Highland Dancers, Scott’s Highland Services Limited, 78th Highlanders (Halifax Citadel) Pipe Band, Windsor­ Detroit Branch, PPBSO, Toronto Branch, PPBSO, Toronto Police Pipe Bands, Western Branch, PPBSO, Windsor Police Pipe Band.’

The annual Glenfiddich competition will be live streamed once more from Blair Castle on October 24, a week earlier than usual. Glenfiddich Piping & Fiddle and the National Piping Centre have hired a professional broadcast company to do the job, no expense spared, so the quality should be first class. Tune in via the NPC website. Results will be announced any time after 6pm if things run true to form.

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