P/M Richard Parkes Equals Worlds Record and Talks to Piping Press

‘Neath louring skies the man made history. Stepping forward to receive his 12th World Pipe Band Champions title, P/M Richard Parkes MBE had equalled the record of the legendary P/M Ian McLellan of Strathclyde Police fame, writes the Editor.

Yet only moments before, as drizzle fell and night closed in, no one really knew if his band’s scintillating performances at Glasgow Green 2018 would, this time, get their due reward. It had been that kind of season. Facing a year without a major for the first time in recent history, Richard cast his eyes to the ground as the supremely composed RSPBA Chief Executive Ian Embelton hushed the world with that pause and then the immortal words ‘World Champions 2018………..Field Marshal Montgomery.

Cue the jubilation, the tears, the relief. Justice at last! Trophy secured, banner attached and off they went on that victory parade, a parade which has become a necessary tradition of this incredible championship.

I spoke to Richard at its conclusion:

Richard, you’ve had a tough year, the only major of the season, did you ever think it wasn’t going to happen? Did you think it would pass you by?
If it had it wouldn’t have concerned me because the band, for me, has been better at times [than before]. To stay at the top you have to get better every year. You have to identify your weaknesses and try to deal with them and we’ve been doing that. And I felt that a couple of performances this year had been right up there with previous years but we just didn’t get the rub of the green. Today’s were the best performances we’ve given all year in both medley and MSR which is what you want to do.

The sign of a champions Richard. You delivered when it mattered most.
Well, you said that.

Richard receives a well-deserved hug from his wife Ruth

I heard you two or three times this year particularly at the British Championship where I thought you were outstanding and had very hard luck that day; but everyone was impressed with the way you handled that. Others might have taken umbrage at what happened but you just knuckled down, showed your maturity and dignity.
That’s what we do….We do what we do and we put it out there and if it wins it wins and if it doesn’t it doesn’t.

And that’s 12 titles now.
Yes, that is unbelievable. If you had told me when I started off that I would equal Ian McLellan’s record I would never have believed you. I mean he is a legend.

But you’re a legend as well! When was your first win?

That’s 26 years ago.
Yours maths are better than mine.

And you never tire, you’ve never lost the passion.
No I haven’t because I’ve got a great group of people here and the band at the minute is the best it’s ever been.

You tell me that every year Richard (laughs)

But that is the case. To win you have to be better every year. To win the next year you have to be better than you were the previous year. I am only talking about very fine margins; these are the differences been first and fourth.

Everyone is asking the inevitable question: how long are you going to keep doing this?
As I’ve said before, I will keep doing it as long as I am enjoying it and I can do it. It is harder work for me now. Every year I have to practice more but I am still enjoying it. I really enjoyed the medley today.

But people in your position want to go out at the top.
Yes, that’s exactly right; that is an important consideration.

Most of us who have followed you and think very highly of you would always hope that you would go out in a blaze of glory rather than drifting down the ranks, not that you would ever allow that to happen.
That won’t happen. If we are not winning or challenging for the first prize then I’ll not be there. 

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