Pipe band plays a victory tune

BAND members are striking up a victory tune after a run of awards success.

The long-serving Morpeth Pipe Band has overcome a difficult winter of interrupted rehearsals to take the top three places in two competitions.

The first success came at a trio-piping event, before delighted members swept to victory in the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s regional mini pipe band and quartet piping contests after battling it out against groups from across the north.

The results were all the sweeter as the winning mini bands included the youngest members of the Morpeth group, Ryhys Grant, Alex Lawrence and Alistair Grant, who are all under 18.

Band spokesman Stewart Todd said: “New Pipe Major Andy Grant has totally reinvigorated the band and improved the playing capability, style and standard of performance for presentation in competitions and public performances.

“The adjudicator’s comments from the mini band contest were nothing but positive and encouraging for the forthcoming outdoor season. Despite a poor winter and disruption to rehearsals, and the start of the contest being considerably delayed due to the adjudicator being stuck on a train, the standard of performances was outstanding and outstripped anything that he could remember.”

The format of the indoor mini band contest is four pipers, bass and tenor drummers and two snare drummers, which is different to normal outdoor competitions in which the entire band plays as a group.

Pipe Major Mr Grant said: “The results confirm what I have always thought about Morpeth, that it has the potential to be a good quality pipe band that can hold its own alongside anything from north of the border.”

The band hopes to find a suitable space to display its trophies in Morpeth, but first they must be engraved, adding further expense to the group’s already high running costs.

To kit out a member with a basic uniform costs almost £1,000 and the cheapest instrument is £450. There is also the expense of travelling to events and competitions, and with members coming from as far as Newton Aycliffe and Belford, there is also a hefty price for getting to and from rehearsals.

However, the band, which has been in existence since at least 1913, is keen to continue its role as an ambassador for Morpeth, travelling to events such as Penrith Carnival and Durham Gala, as well as performing at Morpeth Fair Day.

It was granted the Freedom of the Borough in 2009 and is affiliated to HMS Northumberland.

For more information about the band, or to offer sponsorship or donations, contact Mr Todd on 07872 823780 or call into the Boys Brigade hall in Manchester Street on Mondays between 7.30pm and 9.30pm.