Published 01 August 2022

Scottish Pipe Band Championship organisers hailed their “best ever” event as 20,000 spectators flocked to Levengrove Park in Dumbarton for a masterclass of traditional music.

A total of 117 bands from as far afield as Texas and Australia gathered in the shadow of Dumbarton Rock for the first staging of West Dunbartonshire’s flagship event since 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

There were celebrations for Field Marshal Montgomery from Northern Ireland, who took the Grade 1 winners title.

They were presented with their award by Douglas McAllister, Provost of West Dunbartonshire Council and Chieftain of the event, assisted by Depute Provost John Millar.

Provost McAllister said: “It was an absolutely fabulous day at Levengrove Park. Thankfully the weather stayed fair and the crowds came out what a spectacular show we’ve had, so it’s been a huge success.

Over the years, the Scottish Pipe Band Championships has become one of the highlights of our events calendar. It combines the thrill and spectacle of competition, colour, culture and history with great fun for competitors, their families and all visitors and officials.

“After three years everyone is delighted to be back and it’s been tremendous to welcome everyone again to this perfect setting for the Scottish Pipe Band Championships. It’s a match made in heaven.”

Ian Embelton, Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, said: “This has been a great Championships, possibly our best ever in terms of the crowds and the new layout we have designed, which has had terrific feedback from spectators and competitors.

“I think we all relish this more than ever after the past two years we have been through. The bands have missed this terribly because it’s not a hobby for them, it’s their way of life. There’s a fellowship among pipers and drummers and they have reunited here in huge numbers.

“It’s a fantastic family event in a special location.”

Competitors and spectators came from far and wide to enjoy the world class music.

The sight of four Buddhist monks from Thailand added a vibrant splash of orange amid the maelstrom of coloured tartans displayed by the bands. Residing at the Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple in Helensburgh, the monks came to sample some distinctly Scottish culture in the park.

Phra Boonchuay, from Bangkok, said: “It’s lovely to be here and to say all the bands in their traditional dress. It’s a special experience.”

For Australian band Brisbane Boys College, this was the first stage of tour of Scotland that will see them perform at the Edinburgh Tattoo next month.

Band member and teacher Jim McDonnell said: “The school has had a band for 50 years so it’s a big part of the college’s identity.

“There’s a fairly healthy pipe band scene in Australia but this is on a different scale and it’s great for the kids to experience this, and the venue is just stunning. It’s a little ripper!”

St Thomas’ Episcopal School’s band came from Houston, Texas, to be part of the event.

Pipe Band Director Lyric Todkill said: “The school was founded in 1955 and the pipe band was set up shortly after that. The first head master of the school liked the discipline and tradition of pipe bands and wanted that to sort of be the identity of the school – and it has continued to be a focal point ever since.

“Every two or three years we bring the kids over to Scotland but we’ve never been to Dumbarton before and it’s an incredible place with the castle on the rock.

“I could feel the energy when we got off the bus in the morning, a real sense of everyone being happy to be out playing again.”

The full list of winners can be found at the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association website