Only 21 Pipe Majors have won the Grade 1 World Championships title since the competition has been run under the auspices of the RSPBA.
In that time only 14 different bands have won the title as some of them have been led by different Pipe Majors at different times.
By Alistair Aitken OBE,
former RSPBA Adjudicator
These statistics illustrate clearly the extent of the challenge of winning the title, and perhaps also the leadership qualities required. In alphabetical order the pipe bands and Pipe Majors are:
227 Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Regt. R.A. (TA) (1 time) – John Weatherston MBE BEM)
Bowhill Colliery (1 time) – Chris Sutherland
Clan MacRae Society (1 time) – Alexander MacLeod
Dysart & Dundonald (2 times) – Robert T Shepherd MBE)
Edinburgh City Police/Lothian & Borders Police (7 times) – Donald S Ramsay and Iain McLeod)
Field Marshal Montgomery (13 times) – Richard Parkes MBE)
78th Fraser Highlanders (1 time) – William Livingstone
Glasgow Police/Strathclyde Police (14 times) – John MacDonald and Ian McLellan BEM
Inveraray & District (2 times) – Stuart Liddell)
Muirhead & Sons (8 times) – Jackie Smith and Robert Hardie
Simon Fraser University (6 times) – Terry Lee
Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia (16 times) -Tom MacAllister Snr, John K MacAllister, Tom MacAllister Jnr, Robert Mathieson and Ryan Canning. The victorious Shotts band of 1952 is pictured top.
St Laurence O’Toole (1 time) – Terry Tully
Victoria Police (1 time) – Nat Russell
By 2019 the Championships had been won by both Pipe Major Ian McLellan BEM of Strathclyde Police and Pipe Major Richard Parkes MBE of Field Marshal Montgomery on 12 occasions.
That record was broken in 2022 when Pipe Major Richard Parkes MBE won the Championships for the 13th time. Pipe Major Ian McLellan still holds the record for winning 6 Championships consecutively between 1981 and 1986.
Other multiple Pipe Major winners in alphabetical order are:
Robert Hardie, Muirhead & Sons 5 times
Terry Lee, Simon Fraser University 6 times
Stuart Liddell, Inveraray & District 2 times
Tom MacAllister Snr, Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia 2 times
John K MacAllister, Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia 4 times
Tom MacAllister Jnr, Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia 4 times
John MacDonald, Glasgow Police 2 times
Iain McLeod, Edinburgh City/Lothian & Borders Police 5 times
Robert Mathieson, Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia 5 times
Donald Shaw Ramsay, Edinburgh City Police 2 times
Robert T Shepherd MBE, Dysart & Dundonald 2 times
Jackie Smith, Muirhead & Sons 3 times
Since 1947 the top winning bands have been:
Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia 16 times
Glasgow Police/Strathclyde Police 14 times
Field Marshal Montgomery 13 times
Muirhead & Sons 8 times
Edinburgh City Police 7 times
Simon Fraser University 6 times
Other Worlds facts: The World Pipe Band Championships have been held in Northern Ireland on one occasion (Belfast in 1962) and in England on two occasions (Corby in 1975 and Nottingham in 1979).
The Cowal Pipe Band Championships became one of the SPBA/RSPBA’s five annual Major Championships in 1948. This arrangement was sustained until 2013. From 2014 the fifth RSPBA Major Championships became known as the UK Pipe Band Championships, which have since been held in Northern Ireland.
The SPBA also held the first Scottish and British Pipe Band Championships in 1948 (in Blairgowrie and Renfrew respectively). The European Pipe Band Championships were first held in Dundee in 1949.
Only one RSPBA Major Pipe Band Championships has been held outwith the UK (the European Pipe Band Championships, which were held at Alden Biesen Castle, Bilzen in Belgium in 2003).
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