February 28, 2016

Updated: Denny & Dunipace to sit out 2016 season

The Grade 1 Denny & Dunipace Pipe Band of Stirling, Scotland, has elected not to compete in 2016 after it wasn’t able to attract a new leading-drummer following the departure of Arthur Cook last summer.

According to Pipe-Major David Clunie the band remains a going concern, but he personally will take a sabbatical year and members of the band are free to compete with other bands in 2016 as it hopes to regroup for 2017.

“The pursuit of finding another lead-tip continues and hopefully something can be put together for 2017,” Clunie said, adding that Denny’s Grade 4 band will continue as usual with more input from him and others.

When asked about the possible reasons that no young potential leading-drummers stepped forward, Clunie said, “I think there are various reasons why it’s so difficult, but certainly lack of good young talent to take on, or afraid of taking on leading roles at this level due to risk of being ridiculed by inadequate judging doesn’t help. I’m probably stating what a lot of people already think and I’ve got nothing to lose from it.

“I think there are guys who would love the opportunity but fear the backlash or failure associated with corrupt/inexperienced judging out there. Grade 1 is a joke and you can guess the prize list order and the rest within a place of each other depending on who’s judging. Everyone knows it and all the band members in every band know it, but we do nothing about it. Bands still turn up on the hope that the judges take a moral pill that day and might get a chance of upsetting the apple cart.”

Although rumoured to be in similar straits, the Grade 1 Cullybackey Pipe Band of Northern Ireland plans to compete in 2016, according to Pipe-Major Richard McGrath, but with reduced numbers.

Denny & Dunipace in 2015.




With Northern Ireland’s Bleary & District’s promotion to Grade 1, the effect on UK Grade 1 numbers is neutralized, and the addition of the reformed Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band for 2016, planning to compete at all five major championships, raises the net number in the top grade by one.

For the Grade 1 contest at the 2016 World Pipe Band Championships, Canterbury Caledonian of New Zealand, a consistent competitors at the event over the past several years, will reportedly not make the trip this year, while Manawatu Scottish and the New Zealand Police are planning to return to Glasgow Green. From Ontario, Canada, the Toronto Police will not travel to Scotland, but the Grade 1 Ottawa Police will reportedly make its first appearance at the World’s since being elevated to Grade 1 following the 2014 season.

Along with Clunie, Arthur Cook joined Denny & Dunipace in 2010 when the band was in Grade 2, taking it to Grade 1 in short order. Cook announced he would leave the band after the 2015 World’s, and then joined the Grade 2 Glasgow Skye Association Pipe Band in September 2015. Cook is a previous winner of the World Solo Drumming Championship.



  1. I can not believe anyone would come out with a statement like this. As an association member there are structures in place to put forward suggestions and amendments to rules and structures!. Having listened to several contests last year I can not think of one where this band received a result that it did not deserve!

  2. Wow, an early bolter for PR disaster of the year right here, folks.

    If the PM was struggling to find a lead tip prior to this public ‘brain snap’, he’s nigh-on made it impossible now. Not very wise.

    Also a bit rich coming from a band that has only just moved up into the top grade and is pretty much slumming it at the bottom. Shut up and put up is the best advice here.

  3. Gordon, it was a figure of speech to illustrate that it’s a bit rich that he’s complaining about results when his band is clearly one of the lesser likes in the grade. Yes, grade 1 nonetheless but the top 4 bands are miles ahead of the pack. The rest is a scramble. How many capable pipe majors, doing it tough with small bands etc., from lower grades out there would gladly swap bands with him? Many.

    It beggars belief that anyone would have such a public rant on a totally subjective topic where opinions and preferences (some call it biases) are to be expected. Name a band that didn’t feel hard done by at some point. But save the sulking for the bus ride home.

    He went one step further and stated that it’s a widely held view, this deciding he spoke for the masses, which just serves to tarnish the whole movement. I’d be surprised if band management has not issued a ‘please explain’. The reality is if you don’t like the scene that we all know has its quirks, leave and give someone else the opportunity.



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