After some 130 years, including the last 20 in a relatively constant state of flux, the Grade 1 Lothian & Borders Police Band has disbanded
, according to sources close to the group
. The decision was made at a band meeting on the night of November 29, 2012.
It is not yet known if the resolution was made with the police force or solely by band members.
In a statement to pipes|drums, Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band President Graham Sinclair, who is also a serving officer with the force, said:
It is with deep regret that I write to inform you of the decision taken to disband last night (Thursday 29th November, 2012) at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the band. The band will officially cease to exist on 31st March next year when Lothian & Borders Police itself becomes part of the national Police Service of Scotland.
Last night's decision followed a series of meetings where the band members had debated their future following the loss through resignation and transfer of key playing and support personnel. Ultimately, it was unanimously decided by members that the history and integrity of the band would be best served by disbanding at an appropriate time and following a successful season. Band members did not wish to see a slow and undignified decline.
The history and tradition of this seven times World Championship band is second-to-none and I can assure all interested parties in the piping sand drumming world that the decision was not one that was taken lightly. All members present last night were very aware of the magnificent traditions of the band, of all the wonderful Pipe-Majors and players who have gone before over the unbroken 130 year history, and of the many 'larger than life' characters who have been associated with this great band.
It is important to note that the decision taken last night was taken by band members. Lothian & Borders Police were prepared to continue supporting the band in the coming season, through the transition phase into a single police service for Scotland. However, the loss of key personnel and the inability to parade enough players to effectively compete at the highest level was the most decisive factor.
As Band President, I had hoped to never be in this position. However, I believe that last night's decision to disband was the most appropriate, pragmatic and dignified in all the circumstances.
I would like to honour the achievements of the many piping giants who have led and influenced this great pipe band over many years and also to pass on my sincere thanks to all members for their willingness to try to keep the band going and ultimately for their judgement in taking this sad and bold course of action.
I trust that the above assists in explaining the decision to disband this historical pipe band.
Scotland's police forces are set to operate under a single Police Service of Scotland beginning officially on April 1, 2013, amalgamating Central Scotland Police, Dumfries & Galloway Constabulary, Fife Constabulary, Grampian Police, Lothian & Borders Police, Northern Constabulary, Strathclyde Police, and Tayside Police, five of which sponsor pipe bands.
Since the 1990s the Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band had experienced fairly constant change at the leadership positions, mostly the pipe-major's role, with no fewer than eight taking the front-right flank. Most recently, the band lost Pipe-Major Neil Hall, a captain with the British Army, due to work commitments, after he had been in the post for just a year. The band had said that it was actively looking for a replacement and had invited interested parties to apply, and had set a late-November deadline.
The band had brought in new leading-drummer Jake Jorgensen in 2011, replacing long-time section leader and former World Solo Drumming Champion, Arthur Cook, who subsequently joined the Denny & Dunipace Pipe Band, at the time in Grade 2, but promoted by the RSPBA to Grade 1 after the 2012 season.
Founded in 1882, the Edinburgh City / Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band was one of the oldest civilian pipe bands in the world. Through its glory years between 1950 and 1975, the band won seven World Championships, including five under its most famous pipe-major, Iain McLeod.
With the realignment of Scotland's regions, the Edinburgh City Police became the Lothian & Borders Police in 1976, which coincided with McLeod's retirement. Harry McNulty was elected pipe-major and managed to sustain the band's success. But when McNulty left the police force and the band to become pipe-major of the Grade 1 British Caledonian Airways Pipe Band, the band started its demise and frequent change of leaders, with Colin Forbes, George Lumsden, Duncan Smith, Kenny McBride, Les Watson and Colin MacLellan taking command.
It was MacLellan who in 1999 took over the band just before it was relegated to Grade 2 for the first time in its history. After a season, MacLellan returned the band to Grade 1, and stayed until he resigned in 2004 when Keith Dawes subsequently took over.
Other famous pipe-majors of the band include Ian Duncan, John Burgess and Donald Shaw Ramsay.
In 2010, pipes|drums reunited eight former members of the Edinburgh City Police bands of the 1950s, '60s and '70s – Jack Abbott, Chris Anderson, Alistair Aitken, Jim Hutton, George Lumsden, Harry McNulty Duncan Smith and Martin Wilson – for an an exclusive four-part interview.
Earlier in the year the Grade 3A Pipes & Drums of the Central Scotland Police became the Bannockburn & District Pipe Band, but said that the upcoming police amalgamation did not force the decision.
pipes|drums Magazine broke the story, which was picked up and subsequently reported by major news outlets, including the Scotsman newspaper, Scotland's national daily
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