The number of bands scheduled to compete at the British Pipe Band Championships next month is a record for the competition.
A total of 147 bands have entered for the contest which will be held for the first time at St James Playing Fields near Paisley, a town few miles to the south and west of Glasgow, on May 21.
Usually around 110 – 120 would take part in the competition, the first major championship of the 2016 season.
The draw for the competition will take place at RSPBA HQ tomorrow at 11am and will be posted on the RSPBA website a few hours later.
RSPBA officials are delighted with the response from the bands – as are Paisley’s town council. They are planning an application to be named ‘European City of Culture’ and are keen to demonstrate their abilities to stage a major event such as the British Pipe Band Championships.
The council has appointed a press officer to promote the competition and are planning a significant publicity drive.
The large entry is not a surprise to RSPBA officials, however. They expected a favourable response from bands given that the venue is very close to motorway and airport connections, with plentiful accommodation in the surrounding conurbation.
That said, the logistics of running a major pipe band championship are considerable, and meetings between Paisley’s organising committee and the RSPBA have been on-going for the last six months and all details are now in place.
St James Playing Fields covers a huge area but parking, shuttle buses, siting of temporary offices for compilers and other officials have all been agreed with police and council transport staff.
‘Of course the RSPBA has a lot of experience in running such a competition but the challenges of allocating parking for 147 band buses at a new venue, for example, can be considerable.
‘But we are well down the line with Paisley. The co-operation from the council has been fantastic. It has been a real pleasure working with them, and like us they are doing everything they can to make sure the championship runs as smoothly as possible.
‘I would say that we are well ahead with the planning for all our championships and are confident the 2016 season will be one to remember. All we need now is some good weather.’
Mr Embelton also has a word for the bands themselves: ‘There is a huge commitment from bands wishing to compete at a major. Travel costs, overnight accommodation, it all adds up and that’s not including practising and performance.
‘Kids bands are especially demanding where travel and accommodation is concerned and parents and these bands’ committees work wonders in getting their charges to the line in good order and on time ready to compete.’
Keen pipe band watchers will see that the Grade 1 judge’s list features P/M Terry Lee (above) from Vancouver, Canada, in his first major championship. P/M Lee led his band Simon Fraser University to six World Championship titles.
To remind everyone, here are the placings in Grade 1 from last year: The winners Field Marshal Montgomery are pictured up top on their way to the title. Go to the RSPBA website for all band and drum major results.