The Chairman of the RSPBA, Kevin Reilly, has issued a stirring rallying call to all competing bands encouraging them to pull out all the stops for the forthcoming season.
Mr Reilly said it was time to put the past two years behind us, time to repair the damage, time to rediscover the music and friendship inherent in the pipe band movement.
He spoke as the Association announced the availibility of entry forms for the five major championships following agreement at the RSPBA’s online AGM last Saturday.
‘It is all systems go.’ said Mr Reilly. ‘Our officials, staff and stewards are working now more or less constantly towards the major championships. We’re back to normal and have the majors and 28 minor contests to oversee.
‘The difficult years, 2020 and 21, are behind us. We want to get back out there, though I appreciate some bands might not make it. Memberships can drop off, people have discovered other things to do with their time.
‘Some are still having difficulty over practice halls and other covid restrictions; we understand that.
‘The Association will be taking steps to ease the pressure on bands in any way we can. This could involve changes to the stipulated personnel in a particular grade or a reduction in playing requirement. Nothing has been finalised yet but be in no doubt we are on the side of the bands and are looking at all options.’
Turning to the question of playing standards, Mr Reilly said it would be wrong to expect bands to perform at pre-shutdown levels. They had had three years with little or no competition performance. For many August 2019 was the last time they had competed.
‘Getting back out on the grass will feel strange for many but I do not think bands should worry overmuch about this. Everyone is in the same boat. The important thing is to enter the contests and get out there.
‘To some extent it is a leap in the dark but what is important that we all make that leap and that we make it together.
‘We have our full compliment of stewards and judges; trophies, tents. I know the bands are eager to go, eager to rediscover the excitement and pleasure of being in a pipe band and playing under pressure against their peers. Let us make 2022 a very special season, a season when we remembered what the pipe band movement is all about: good music and friendship.
‘What has happened has happened. There is nothing we can do about it but what we can do is be more determined than ever to keep our movement alive and thriving, and with the bands’ help, that is just what the RSPBA intends to do.’
- Bands can enter for this season’s contests via the RSPBA website here.