Only 13 bands in history have been official World Pipe Band Champions, and the future of one of them, Dysart & Dundonald, is in jeopardy after announcing cancellation of its 2014 season.
The band suffered a double-whammy last fall after Pipe-Major Greig Canning resigned after the 2013 World’s, and then the RSPBA relegated the band to Grade 2 after a sustained run of 35 years in Grade 1, that included back-to-back World Championship wins in 1977 and 1978.
Since September the band had tried to attract new members under Andrew Downie, who had come in as pipe-major, but efforts were unsuccessful and “undermined by a well-publicized downgrading of the band to Grade 2,” according to a statement from the band.
“While [the downgrading was] not in itself entirely to blame, the uncertainty and lengthy appeal process made it more difficult to retain and attract players to the band.”
The RSPBA apparently rejected an application to be reinstated to Grade 1, resulting in more players departing, and “others reluctant to join.”
The Dysart & Dundonald organization openly informed remaining members that they are free to join other bands
Despite enduring unstable times over the last two decades, Dysart & Dundonald if it disbands will be remembered mostly for its glory days under Pipe-Major Bob Shepherd and Leading-Drummer James King. The band quickly rose to Grade 1 through an intensive teaching program by Shepherd at Ballingry School in Fife, with a relatively ragtag group of pipers and drummers taking on and beating established former-World Champions in the Strathclyde Police, Lothian & Borders Police, and Muirhead & Sons.
By the mid-1980s, Dysart and Dundonald became inconsistent and never came close to its late-1970s World Championship form. If the band dissolves, its last performance will have been on August 17, 2013, in the Grade 1 Qualifier at the World Pipe Band Championships.