June 30, 2008

Parkes clarifies what happened at the British

Rumours have already flown around following the British Pipe Band Championships on June 28th at Birmingham, England, at which Field Marshal Montgomery finished sixth after Pipe-Major Richard Parkes did not play with the band, but nonetheless led it through the MSR event.

Piping judge Tony Sloan placed FMM last, while his counterpart, Peter Snadden, put the band first. According to a well connected source, Snadden allegedly admitted that he did not notice that Parkes was not playing.

pipes|drums decided to ask Parkes for his take on the matter, to find out definitively what took place on the day. Here’s what he provided.

“What actually happened at the British was, that upon trying to strike in, I was unable to inflate the bag due to a drone stock becoming loose,” Parkes said. “Despite the obvious concern within the band, they still managed to play very well. After re-tying in the stock I led the band on to the finale.

“I would like to warmly thank all those in the pipe band fraternity who expressed empathy with my mishap on the day. This is a totally separate incident from what happened at Banbridge the week before, when, due to extreme weather conditions, I put the band’s performance first and decided not to play.

“Not a good week for me, but I’m very proud about the way the band handled both competitions.”

Had Sloan placed FMM first, the band still would have finished second to St. Laurence O’Toole due to FMM’s marks in drumming and ensemble. It is not known if ensemble judge Trevor Dear saw that Parkes was not playing and, if so, whether it contributed to him ranking the band fourth.


  1. This is an interesting one. Its up to each judge to submit his take on it. Audience sources said that the three judges definitely had a short pow wow during the performance” which of course is against the rules and code of practice. I do not think they should have been disqualified but I do not think it should merit a first place either. Imagine if you took a band up to the line with a view of telling one of the pipers that if we draw number 1 set don’t play. Taking a softer view on instrument malfunction is all very well after the event but at the time the judges didn’t know wether it was instrument malfunction

  2. Why would the lack of Parkes playing contribute to a lower score for the band? If the band played poorly due to his lack of leadership, I understand. However, if a judge thought the band played up to a first or second place standard but placed the band lower ONLY because the PM was missing…that doesn’t make sense to me…but then a lot of things about the competition world don’t make sense to me.

  3. Seamus, The RSPBA have a rule where you have to finish with as many players as you started with. And I believe it starts from when you are told what you are playing. I think at this level no band would realistically put a player in and not play due to what was selected on the line, which is perhaps amoungst many reasons why the rule is in place. I don’t think any band should be disqualified for a failure like this happening, something substantial such as a last place result in piping is punishment enough for the likes of this happening. But as it got proven, you have to see it to notice it and perhaps its important for judges to expect absolutely anything to happen even at this level. Disregarding what happened, it was still a class performance.



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