PP Ed's Blog: SPJA Withdrawal/ Uist & Barra/ Scottish Schools/ Lisnamulligan

I shouldn’t have thought my withdrawal from the Solo Piping Judges Association of any great interest, far less newsworthy.

However the new SPJA chairman decided to make the matter public. He sent a circular to all members telling them about it then a press notice to the Competing Pipers’ Association, pipes/drums, Piping Press and the Piping Times. He did so without agreement with myself.
I was subsequently contacted by Andrew Berthoff of pipes/drums web magazine in Canada who asked for an explanation. I gave him the following which he duly published: ‘I had hoped that this information would have been kept private within the SPJA and it has been released into the public domain without my permission.
‘I have withdrawn from the Association at this juncture on a matter of principle following my attention being drawn to an issue the full facts of which became known to me only last week. For the moment I continue as an independent senior solo piping adjudicator for both ceol mor and ceol beag should competition promoters wish to call on my services in the future.’



Andrew Berthoff’s website is not a regular port of call for me but yesterday I looked in to check on the story he was running. He is wrong in saying that I had faced three complaints from the SPJA. Over the past four years there have been six and all from disgruntled competitors, two saying I was a crook and four disagreeing with my writings. Two complaints were dismissed, three upheld, no action taken, and the other left hanging. It shows what can happen when organisations cozy up to those on the other side of the fence. The previous SPJA chairman was so keen to please that he actually encouraged complaints from competitors and changed the rules to fit.
One other item in Andrew’s story caught my eye, that of Roderick MacLeod’s withdrawal from the 2017 Uist & Barra competition, ‘allegedly’ as Andrew says, because I was judging. Roderick, Principal at the National Piping Centre, has got himself into a right pickle over this. He’s now privately asserting that he pulled out for medical reasons (a sore arm I’m told) and recently gave lengthy details to a retired policemen, let’s call him Inspector Clueless of Gayfield, to help prove his case to the SPJA.
True to form, Clueless swallowed his yarn hook, line and chanter, but nothing of consequence happened and the story continues to do the rounds. The way to knock inaccuracies and misconceptions in the press on the head is to ask for a correction/apology. I would be more than happy to print one from Roderick. Until that happens pipes/drums and Piping Press are entitled to continue with their view of events as commonly understood and ‘Sore-arm-gate’ will continue to annoy and amuse.


SSPDT: The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust is a national charity that supports piping and drumming tuition programmes in state schools, and the formation of schools pipe bands. The Trust is interested in advancing the quality of pipes and drums teaching and learning in schools, and in supporting career progression opportunities for pipers and drummers.
The Trust is offering a paid internship for a piper from January to September 2018. The role will be tailored individually and will offer opportunities to teach in schools, to develop pipe band programmes and to advance personal instrumental skills. The intern will also have the option to gain experience of charity administration. Full details can be found on https://www.sspdt.org.uk/about/work-with-us/


Northern Ireland correspondent John Kelly has sent this: Lisnamulligan Pipe Band (pictured top) held a ‘Celebratory Dinner’ on Saturday 18th November. After not competing in pipe band contests since August 2012, the Grade 4B band made a welcome return to the competition arena in May 2017.  Under the direction of their new Pipe Major Dylan Walker and their new Drum Sergeant Alan Kerr, the band has had a very successful season and their achievements during the year are as follows:
Champion of Champions at the World Championships at Glasgow (they are the first RSPBANI pipe band in over 15 years to achieve this in grade 4b).
1st  British Champions at Paisley, Scotland
1st  Lisburn & Castlereagh Championships at Moira

Guests at the Lisnamulligan dinner

2nd North West Championships at Portrush.
3rd  World Championships at Glasgow
3rd All-Ireland Championships at Lurgan
4th UK Championships at Stormont
1st  Best Bass Section at the Lisburn & Castlereagh Championships
1st  British Drum Corps Champions at Paisley, Scotland
3rd RSPBA Champion of Champions Drum Corps
3rd Scottish Championships at Dumbarton, Scotland
4th UK Championships at Stormont
5th All-Ireland Championships at Lurgan
5th World Championships at Glasgow


2 thoughts on “PP Ed's Blog: SPJA Withdrawal/ Uist & Barra/ Scottish Schools/ Lisnamulligan

  1. I assume you are playing ´Lament for the Children’ these days. Glad you are doing very well. All the best, from a Canadian admirer.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Betty Anne. Long time no see. Must get over again soon. Kind regards, Rob W

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