Closure of Central Scotland Police band coincides with upcoming amalgamation of Scottish forces
The amalgamation in April 2013 of Scotland’s police forces into a single “Police Service of Scotland” has coincided with the voluntary closure of the Grade 3A Pipes & Drums of Central Scotland Police, with members of the band going “independent” to form the new Bannockburn & District Pipe Band. The newly-named band will comprise the same members and plans to continue to compete in Grade 3A.
Central Scotland Police won Grade 3B at the 2008 World Pipe Band Championships, was promoted to Grade 2, and settled back to Grade 3A in 2011. The band was originally started in 2006.
The news comes at a time when all eight of Scotland’s regional police forces – most of which sponsor pipe bands, including the Grade 1 Fife Constabulary, Grampian Police, Strathclyde Police and Lothian & Borders Police – will be combined into a single Police Service of Scotland, with aim of gaining efficiencies and saving money.
Strathclyde Police Chief Constable Stephen House was recently named as the Chief Constable of the new amalgamated force. In 2009 it was House who was alleged to be a primary threat to closing the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band, the oldest civilian band in the world. Through an ugly period of negotiations, the band was given a reprieve and has risen under Pipe-Major Duncan Nicholson and Leading-Drummer Eric Ward, with the band finishing sixth at the 2012 World Championships.
Bannockburn & District will be led by Pipe-Major Robert Russell and Leading-Drummer David Richardson, who also ran the Central Scotland Police band. Based in Stirling, the group chose Bannockburn & District for the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn of 1314, one of the most important events in Scotland’s national history.
When asked if the move had anything to do with the amalgamation, Richardson said, “As far as we are aware the fate of the police bands hasn’t been decided yet. We have just decided to pursue the opportunity – being a Stirling based band – of being involved in the celebrations that will come with the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn next year. It’s an exciting time for everyone, and we are looking forward to hopefully being in the thick of it.”
Scottish police pipe band sponsorships are more about tradition than money today. Most of the bands receive little-to-no monetary funding, and the days of members being solely or even primarily serving police officers ended decades ago. The Central Scotland Police band was sponsored by Argyll Bagpipes & Kilts of Alexandria, Scotland.