Inverclyde Juvenile Pipe Band
The Inverclyde Juvenile Pipe Band was formed in 1998 with children from some of the towns and villages that make up the area of Inverclyde, Scotland. The band members come from Greenock, Gourock, Port Glasgow, and Inverkip.
At that time it was decided that a novice juvenile pipe band should be started, since the children were receiving piping and drumming tuition through the Inverclyde Schools Piping and Drumming Project. The project was set up in 1996 to address the decline of pipe bands in Inverclyde area.
Gordon McDermid, a playing member of the Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band was approached and asked if he would like to take on the challenge, Gordon jumped at the chance to pay back a little something and pass on his vast experience to the youngsters.
Stuart Coils a close friend of Gordon and a playing member of the Scottish Power Pipe Band was also asked if he would like to help. Stuart also embraced the chance to pass on his experience and helped form the drum corps.
They managed to obtain a practice venue in the Greenock Arts Guild, which was very early on a Saturday morning due to other organisations having use of the premises later in the day.
With a full turn out virtually every Saturday morning showing just how much dedication, commitment and sacrifice the kids were prepared to give.
“If the youngsters ranging from 10 to 15 years of age were prepared to give up playing football, scout camps or a long lay in bed on a Saturday morning and come along to a band practice, that in itself indicated to me that they were prepared to give 100%, and not give up after a few weeks,” says Gordon McDermid. “Therefore I had the nucleus to form a band with a dedicated core.”
In 1999, the Inverclyde Juvenile Pipe Band was formed and registered with the Royal Scottish Pipe Band association. As the youngsters gained more knowledge and experience in their playing it became clear that funds were needed to help purchase uniforms so that the band could start competing. With that in mind, some of the parents started to gather round and meetings to help draw up ideas to help boost funds, holding ceilidhs, and sponsored walks.
Says Stuart Coils, “As well as boosting funds it also got the parents of the youngsters to meet together and get to know each other as well as getting to know Gordon and me.”
Now as a result we have a small-dedicated group of “band groupies” who come along to all our competitions and help and give support where and when they can.
During 1999, Gordon Brown and William McIntosh, former members of Shotts & Dykehead, volunteered to help Stuart with the drum corps. Gordon’s wife Heather, a playing member of the Johnston Pipe Band (Grade 3A), and Brian Thomas, formerly of Shotts & Dykehead, have also helped the pipers.
By this time the Inverclyde Juvenile Pipe Band had managed to obtain a new practice venue. The hall is situated in the Greenock Police Club, and practices are at the much more sociable time of 7:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. on a Thursday evening.
Late in 2000, Gordon and one of the parents, Ian Murray, had a meeting with the chief executive of Inverclyde Council hoping that they could help with a small donation to help with the purchase of the much needed uniforms. As a result of that meeting, a very generous donation from the provost’s fund enabled Gordon and Stuart to purchase all of the much-needed uniforms for the band. Now there was the dilemma of what tartan to wear.
Says Gordon, “The children thought it would be great to have their own tartan, so the band helped design it with Robert Mathieson, Pipe Major of Shotts & Dykehead and owner of The Kilt Centre in New Lanark. The tartan is now in the process of being registered as ‘Inverclyde’.”
This year, as the competition season approached ever nearer, the band members were eagerly awaiting their first competition, the venue was to be the local Gourock Highland Games. They thoroughly enjoyed the experience, playing in front of such a huge crowd for the first time. There were a few nervous smiles as they marched into the ring, and they finished a respectable eighth overall.
This year is the new band’s very first year of competition and the children are having a great time meeting a lots of people on the pipe band circuit as well as playing against the more experienced bands in the juvenile section, and listening to some of the big guns in the pipe band world.
Said parent Kenneth Murphy, “It’s quite an eye opener for them and indeed for us as parents who follow the band and know absolutely nothing about piping, drumming or the pipe band scene. However, we are picking up information about this and that from hearing comments from various experienced members of the public who go to the competitions. So, come next year we will have some idea what people are talking about.”
The band has competed in five competitions to date and won a total four trophies in two of them, they were placed second in the West of Scotland Championships at Shotts, and third overall in their section. Then came second prize at Ardrossan with first in marching and discipline. “We are still a long way from where we want them to be as a pipe band,” says Gordon. “However, Stuart, I, and the rest of the tutors are pleased with the progress of the band to date.”
Of course, the old spectre of finance always raises its head and the band is now desperately seeking a sponsor to help with transport for the rest of this year and next year, while it continues to hold fund raising exercises and come up with new ideas.
The band would like to mention without any detriment whatsoever that it is not in any way linked with the only other local pipe band, Inverclyde Pipe Band (Grade 3). Inverclyde Juvenile Pipe Band is completely separate.
Ian Murray (fund raising convenor)
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