Grade 2 will be more competitive by numbers than Grade 1 on the Ontario circuit after the Pipers & Pipe Band Society of Ontario approved a request by the Hamilton Police to move up.
The upgrade follows the appointment of former Grade 1 pipe-major John Elliott as leader of Hamilton Police, as well Cameron McKail being made lead-drummer.
The band joins 400 Squadron and the Peel Regional Police in the penultimate grade giving Ontario three Grade 2 bands for the first time in several years. The Peel Regional Police, a band that Elliott once led to a Grade 1 North American Championship, moved down after the RSPBA downgraded the group following the 2017 World Pipe Band Championships.
Pipe-Major John Elliott said: “When I took over as pipe-major wanted to see what players we might pick up and how the group would respond to the new music and the slight style. It didn’t take long to realize that it was a very dedicated hard working group. We also were fortunate to pick a few excellent players between the pipe-section and drum section. It made sense to see about moving up a grade so the process began. As a group we are very happy about the outcome and the group should be very proud of their hard work. It’s a big step but looking forward to it. Hopefully we can make the Grade 2 contest in Ontario a little more interesting, which can only be a good thing.”
The Hamilton Police had held a position in Grade 2 under Pipe-Major Peter Aumonier and Lead-Drummer John Gaudet, before going through a rebuilding phase following Aumonier’s departure in 2010. Trish Kirkwood filled the role of pipe-major during that successful seven-year period, before passing the band to Elliott.
“The PPBSO Board made the decision to upgrade the band yesterday at its monthly meeting based upon the recommendation of the Music Committee,” said Chris Buchanan, president of the PPBSO. “Generally speaking – and including this case – when a band requests an upgrade, they submit an updated roster to the committee and representatives of the committee go to a band practice and hear the band play. The committee then discusses those items as well as others, for example, competitive record of the band, expectations for the target grade, when making its decision and recommendation one way or the other.”
The Grade 2 Hamilton Police competed in Grade 3A at the 2017 World Championships and did not qualify for the final event. The group has a highly successful teaching operation, and supports a band in Grade 4.
With the recent loss of the Ottawa Police Service Pipe Band and the Peel Regional Police move to Grade 2, the PPBSO now has only two Grade 1 bands, the 78th Fraser Highlanders and the Toronto Police.