October 08, 2022

Keith Bowes steps down as Johnstone P-M; Donald Mackay takes over

Keith Bowes Jr. has stepped down as pipe-major of Grade 1 Johnstone of Scotland, and Donald Mackay has taken over the position.

Bowes announced his decision to leave the role, along with his intention to remain with the band as pipe-sergeant.

Mackay moves over from Grade 1 ScottishPower, where he had been pipe-sergeant since 2015. He was pipe-major of the Grade 1 Strathclyde Police, now Police Scotland & Federation, leaving the post in 2008 after leading the band to a European and Cowal championships in 2006 and a Scottish Championship in 2007.

Mackay said that things came together quickly and amicably all around. He has been involved with Johnstone’s teaching program for several winters.

“It is the respect I have for the whole Johnstone organization is why I accepted the offer,” Mackay said. “They have a fantastic set up and this is something I only hope to build on moving forward with the whole team. The current band has huge potential and I’m excited to see where we can go. The music and sound already achieved is an excellent base to work from and a credit to all those involved.”

“Donald will bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the band,” Bowes said in his statement to Johnstone members.

Keith Bowes Jr.

Keith Bowes had led Johnstone since 2014, guiding the group through the grades until the band was promoted to Grade 1 after the 2016 season when it won Grade 2 at the World Championships. Bowes succeeded his father, Keith Bowes Sr., who continues to be the pipe-major of Johnstone’s Grade 2 band.

Under both Keith Bowes’ guidance, Johnstone implemented and expanded a teaching program at every level, now recognized as one of the most effective in the world.

Donald Mackay

Despite two seasons of non-competition in 2020 and ’21, Johnstone managed to maintain its standard, though the band didn’t manage to make any prize lists at RSPBA major championships in 2022.

“I have loved being in charge of Johnstone Pipe Band and I am thankful for each person who brought many good times,” Bowes continued. “I am confident that Donald will bring success to the band, and I urge you all to give him the same backing and support that I was afforded. It will be exciting times, please give him your all. I can assure you that I will be doing the same, in my new role within the band.”

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Chris Armstrong and the whole team at ScottishPower for a most enjoyable and memorable 13 years,” Mackay added. “I’ve been very lucky to have had some great times and trips away but most importantly played in some exceptional performances, a great experience I’ll never forget. I look forward now to experiencing new challenges and I’m excited about the future ahead.”

It is not yet known who ScottishPower Pipe-Major Chris Armstrong will appoint as pipe-sergeant.

Johnstone was founded in 1943, making it one of the world’s longer-running pipe bands.





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