January 31, 2010

Strathclyde Police to meet to decide future, sources say

The ongoing story of the viability of the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band continues this week, according to sources close to the matter, when remaining members of the band who are also serving officers meet with the Chief Superintendant Bernie Higgins, who now has oversight of what’s left of the band.
The Strathclyde Police band has lost “at least 12 who are now playing with other bands,” according one source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Pipe-Major Don Bradford and Pipe-Sergeant Duncan Nicholson resigned from the band in October 2009.
Bradford, who is a serving police constable, has allegedly expressed desire to return, although that could not be confirmed. Regardless of who is put forward as a new leader, he/she will have to go through an approval procedure at a special meeting. All management roles in the band, if it indeed is to continue, have to be voted on by members. Reportedly, no others have expressed interest in leading the band.
There are approximately 10 serving officers who played with the band in 2009 and who are not now committed to other bands. Among those who have left is former Pipe-Major Donald Mackay, who joined ScottishPower, becoming that band’s pipe-sergeant, shortly before Bradford announced his resignation last October.
According to another source, Higgins is discussing working arrangements with the band members, such as shift patterns that would allow them to attend regular practices. “They have lost a lot of pipers and haven’t had any practices since August,” he added.
The source said, “I’m not sure how many will stay [with the band. There are] a couple of deciding factors: 1. Whoever the new P-M will be, and, 2. Depends on what role is offered to them. Some might grin and bear the band if it will give them a shift pattern that suits them. Nobody actually knows for sure as this meeting is still to be held.”
He added, “They have a budget and a commander in charge of the division who is sympathetic, so things are looking better for the band. How much of this is too late, we will have to wait and see.”
The band has a drum sponsorship agreement with Pearl Percussion. Reportedly Lead-Drummer Eric Ward will remain with the band, and Bradford will have strong support from the drum section.
The band, which the longest continually running civilian pipe band in the world, was on the brink of dissolution in the fall of 2009 when it appeared that there was no hope of it continuing. The previous Divisional Commander, Anne McGuire, indicated that it would be subject to cutbacks, including restricting attendance at practices and competitions for serving officers playing with the band. McGuire left the Strathclyde Police force later in 2009, breathing new life into the near-defunct, historic group.


  1. I am so sick of this story!!! If it is true that they will still get £20,000 a year they should have players queuing up to join since any band with that kind of money and free drums and chanters has some good trips. Please just form your band and get on with it!!

  2. Lugnuts, anyone who works in a bureaucracy (like a police force) understands that such upheaval leads to a protracted recovery period. I’m not saying it’s right, but that’s just how it is. 100-plus years of tradition deserves some time to think and work things through. You overlook the fact that the band has no say in how this resolution process runs, so it is unfair to paint them as being precious (which you have surreptitiously done). This is far more interesting than a lot of ‘news’ we are bombarded with in the pipe band world. A reformation after such carnage has been inflicted takes time. I don’t share your perception that SPPB personnel get an easy ride. I don’t know too many pipe bands that would function as well (if at all) if they were answerable to a higher power and had protocols, procedures, regulations, barriers etc everywhere they looked. A unique band in a unique situation.

  3. Lawrie I agree with you and didn’t intend offense just want the band to get going soon so we can put all this behind us and carry on with enjoying their music.

  4. Best of Luck to all involved. It’s the Historical line that is precious and needs to be preserved. Plus the recent band is creating some really great music. Best wishes to Don and Eric, I hope they can make it happen. HOSS



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