Pipe Major Richard Parkes of Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band has spoken of his band’s success at last weekend’s UK Pipe Band Championships held in the grounds of Stormont Castle, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
His band were placed first ahead of Inveraray by a clear eight points. An emphatic win, their first since the Europeans at Forres last year. FMM started 2015 in fine style winning both the British Championships and then the UKs. Things got tighter at the Europeans at Forres with the band taking first on ensemble preference in a three-way tie with St Laurence O’Toole and Shotts. SLoT went on to take the Scottish title at Dumbarton and Shotts the big one at the Worlds – with FMM a lowly (for them) fourth.
This season began with Inveraray taking the British at Paisley in scintillating style again pushing FMM into second. P/M Parkes had been determined to regain the initiative and last Saturday’s win was very welcome.
P/M Parkes said: ‘I was naturally very pleased to win. I know other bands had issues on the day but we didn’t. We played very well and psychologically it was very important for the band to get a first place prior to the remaining championships including, of course, the Worlds.
‘As I say, the band played very well. But we have been playing well at other competitions and I knew it could only be a matter of time before we got back into first place again. We felt the result would come.
‘We played our No. 2 MSR, Balmoral Highlanders, John Roy Stuart and Charlie’s Welcome, a set that has been very successful for us. I played 23 pipers and these included young Sandy Cameron and Alister Donaghy, two players who were completely new to the band this year.
‘Our piping has never been an issue – even when we weren’t getting first in major championships we were winning the piping. The difficulties have been with the drumming, and third at the UKs was very pleasing for our corps. They’ve been working very hard and deserve a lot of credit. We have changed a few things and we know there is more to come from them.
‘Even when we weren’t winning I didn’t feel any pressure to change things. Our sound has been good and consistent and as I said, we’ve kept winning the piping even when we weren’t taking first. I didn’t feel any pressure to change anything at all. We’re still playing the same chanters and reeds.
‘Now we are looking forward to the Europeans at Forres at the end of the month.’
The result in Grade 1:
3 Scottish Power
4 Spirit of Scotland
6 St Laurence
Drumming: Spirit of Scotland
In the picture up top P/M Parkes receives the Grade 1 trophy from the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Brian Kingston (Chieftain of the Gathering). Picture courtesy John Kelly.
1 Police Service N Ireland
2 Glasgow Skye
4 Buchan Peterson
5 Lomond & Clyde
Drumming: Glasgow Skye
Grade 3a went to Colmcille (drumming Aughintober), G3b to Matt Boyd Mem. (drumming to Bothwell Castle), Juv to Dollar Academy (drumming to George Watson’s) , 4a to Cleland Memorial (drumming to Ullapool who were also 2nd in the grade), 4b to St Mary’s Derrytransa, Novice A to Dollar Academy and Novice B to Preston Lodge.
Get full summaries here.
There was a record entry of 115 bands at Stormont, a 15% increase on last year. These included Dowco Triumph Street from Vancouver who opted to travel over for the UKs rather than the Worlds.
Entries were as follows: Grade 1 : 13, Grade 2 15, Grade 3a 14, Grade 3b: 16, Juvenile: 6, Grade 4a: 20, Grade 4b: 25, Novice: 6. Judges announced previously were as follows:
G1: Donald MacPhee, John Wilson, Alex Dudgeon, John Moles
G2: Jim Semple, Cameron Edgar, Bill Black, Alan Ronaldson
G3A: Colin Moffett, George Wilson, Harry Russell, Paul Turner
G3B: William Garrett, Jim Campbell, Paul Brown, Gordon Lawrie
Juv: Donald MacPhee, John Wilson, Alex Dudgeon, John Moles
G4A: Colin Moffett, George Wilson, Harry Russell, Paul Turner
G4B (1): Jim Semple, Cameron Edgar, Bill Black Alan Ronaldson
G4B (2): William Garrett, Jim Campbell, Paul Brown, Gordon Lawrie
Nov A: Winston Pollock, Peter Snaddon, Sandy Steele, Robert Mathieson
Nov B Winston Pollock, Peter Snaddon, Sandy Steele, Robert Mathieson
Read a report on last year’s UKs here.