The County Armagh town of Lurgan and its sprawling park was the setting for the second RSPBA Major of the season, the United Kingdom Pipe Band Championships.
The weather was extremely changeable with a warm but blustery morning followed by heavy showers from the start of the Grade 1 competition before it settled back to being dry.
It was hard to determine crowd numbers as the grades were well spread out and it seemed that many may have left after the competitions ended on time at 3.30pm and decided not to wait the hour for the finale and prize giving.
The big result of the day had to be Field Marshal Montgomery taking the Grade 1 title bringing to an end the band’s longest run without a RSPBA major title. They had a two point margin over Inveraray & District who won the drumming. Police Scotland Fife continued their excellent form by taking third place and Scottish Power put their poor showing in the British behind them by moving up to fourth.
Ravara took the Grade 2 title ahead of Royal Burgh of Annan who won the drumming. Clogher & District won Grade 3A in which McNeillstown won the drumming. The Ayr Pipe Band Society won Grade 3B with Augharan claiming the drumming title.
Kildoag had a clean sweep of band and drumming titles in Grade 4A. Kilbarchan are setting the pace in Grade 4B as they added the UK title to their British success with Syerla & District taking the drumming title. Two of the NI Branch’s newest bands were in the prizes with the Irvine Memorial taking second place and Hollymount in fifth place.
Dollar Academy lifted both the band and drumming titles in the Juvenile grade while their Novice Juvenile A band also lifted that title with George Watson’s College taking the drumming. In the Novice Juvenile B grade the St Columba’s School Band from Kilmacolm were the winners with Down Academy lifting the drumming for what was their first ever prize at a contest.
The Adult Drum Major final, which was played off in two, three-person legs, was undertaken at a significantly faster pace than expected by competitors, adjudicators and spectators alike. The band that was brought to play for the final, by virtue of their proximity to the arena having just competed in Grade 3A, was The Highlanders (4 Scots).
It just so happened that they played their tunes at traditional army speed which was much faster than what the drum majors were used to and having run the first leg of the final at that rate the second leg had to remain the same. In fairness to the six competitors they all seemed to adapt their performances and Jason Price was declared the winner. Louis Anderson won the Juvenile title and Jorja Turkington the Junior.
Field Marshal Auld Boys
One of the highlights of the recent Kids with Cancer Charity Concert which was held in the Royal Hotel on Cookstown on April 30th was the appearance of a drum corps featuring former members of the Field Marshal led by Gordon Parkes.
Gordon and many of these players were part of the band under the leadership of Gordon’s brother Richard who remains at the helm to the present day. Many of these drummers were part of the band that secured their first World Championship in 1991.
The ‘Giggles’ documentary which can be found on www.eventbrite.com/…/giggles-documentary follows the journey of this original Field Marshal Montgomery corps under Gordon’s direction as they reform for the first time in 24 years to perform the well-known and award winning drum fanfare ‘Giggles’.
Many of the players, including Gordon, had been retired from competitive playing for a long time, so this performance needed a lot of hard work and effort individually and collectively. It was of course also a lot of fun as this documentary will clearly show.
All proceeds from the cost of viewing ‘Giggles’ will be donated to the ongoing Kids with Cancer Charity Concert fund.
A number of individuals were involved in the project and the drummers would like to thank Brian Hasson who worked tirelessly to ensure their journey was recorded, edited (much editing), and produced for your viewing, Rab Lennox for his help with Eventbrite while Andante’s Nigel Hodgen and Samuel Smith made sure that the drum corps was equipped with replica snare drums and an original bass drum for the charity concert.
According to Gary Smyth who was one of the ‘auld hands’ in this drum corps they really enjoyed making the documentary and it is their hope that pipe band fans enjoy watching it.