February 18, 2019

Cargill resigns from RSPBA Music Board

Bruce Cargill

Bruce Cargill has resigned as Convenor of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association’s Music Board, providing no reason for his decision to leave last week. The RSPBA’s Music Board is in many ways the world’s most powerful governing body for pipe bands, responsible for setting parameters for competition rules and grading in the UK.

The pipe-major of the Grade 3A City of Brechin and the piping representative from the Dundee, Perth & Angus branch of the RSPBA, Cargill would not provide a specific reason for his departure.

Kevin Reilly – Board of Directors representative for the RSPBA’s North East England branch, Honourary Vice-President and and former Chairman of the RSPBA proper – has reportedly taken on the Convenor role, even though the RSPBA website still listed Cargill as Convenor. Reilly is not a Music Board representative.

The move to place Reilly in the Music Board Convenor position could indicate a level of displeasure with the operations of the current Music Board.

“It’s clearly a sign that the main Board [of Directors] are dissatisfied with the recent management of the Music Board,” said an RSPBA insider who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Each branch of the RSPBA can appoint one piping and one drumming representative as members of the association’s Music Board. The RSPBA does not make public who the actual members of its Music Board are, but pipes|drums has pieced together the following as a service to RSPBA members and other interested parties:

Ayr, Dumfries & Galloway – Karl Lees (piping), Robert Andrews (drumming)

Dundee, Perth & Angus – Sarah Rathbone (piping), drumming vacant

Glasgow, West of Scotland – Keith Bowes Jr. (piping), Gordon McDermid (drumming)

London & the South of England – Tom Curd (piping), drumming vacant

Lothian & Borders – Ian Simpson (piping), Mick O’Neill (drumming)

Midlands – not known

North of Scotland – Julie Brinklow (piping), Jill McHaffie (drumming)

North East England – C. Smith

North West England – Theresa Brown (piping)

Northern Ireland – Alan Ferguson (piping), Brian Hasson (drumming)

According to a portion of the leaked minutes of its meeting on January 12, “G. Smiles” is also listed as a member of the Music Board, though he did not attend the meeting.

The current RSPBA Music Board is relatively lacking in well-known names, with the most famous members being Johnstone Pipe-Major Keith Bowes Jr., Police Scotland Fife Lead-Drummer Mick O’Neill and Boghall & Bathgate Caledonian veteran Iain Simpson.

The RSPBA’s Music Board has in the past featured some of the biggest names in piping and drumming, including Tom Brown, Robert Mathieson, Richard Parkes, Paul Turner and Wilson Young.

While the regrading of non-member bands that have competed at the World Pipe Band Championships is a contentious issue on its own, Cargill oversaw the last rounds of promotions and demotions that included Bagad Cap Caval, Buchan Peterson, and Denny & Dunipace Gleneagles being moved to Grade 2.

+ RSPBA announces regradings – now four fewer Grade 1 bands

The announcement was met with some surprise when the group downgraded non-RSPBA member Cap Caval of Brittany, but did not make a recommendation on the winners of Grade 2 at the World’s, City of Dunedin of Florida, which was later promoted to Grade 1 by the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association, its home association.

+ City of Dunedin promoted to Grade 1



  1. I fail to see why “being well known” is a qualification in itself. A lot of voluntary work (as I assume this is) would simply not be done if organizations didn’t use the width of their qualified members. Just because you carry a high public profile (in our world, you are able to play well) doesn’t automatically qualify you as anything else than a figurehead.



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