Paul Warren, who brought the Lomond & Clyde Pipe Band from Grade 4 to Grade 2, is returning to Scotland to take charge of the Grade 4A Kilmarnock Pipe Band.
The Ayrshire-based band has also appointed Karen McCrindle Warren and George Sharp as co-pipe-sergeants, and Darren Mitchell as lead-drummer. Warren, McCrindle Warren and Sharp each were members of the Grade 1 Vale of Atholl before joining Kilmarnock, while Mitchell was with Grade 1 Johnstone.
Also coming on board with Kilmarnock is new bass-section lead Lewis Thorpe, who most recently played with Grade 1 Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to have such a great team in place, and there’s a great buzz of excitement and energy around,” Warren said in a statement.
Kilmarnock’s previous pipe-majors, Phil Stevenson and Jim Faulds, will remain with the band. They are described as “architects of this bold development plan.”
Paul Warren was pipe-major of Lomond & Clyde for nine seasons until his departure in 2008. Under his direction, the band progressed from Grade 4B to being a prize-winning Grade 2 organization, climbing five grades in five years.
“Pipe bands in Ayrshire have dipped in recent times and we would really like to address this issue,” Faulds added. “We all know what Paul did at Lomond & Clyde taking the band from the bottom of Grade 4B to Grade 2 in five years, and if he can do the same with Kilmarnock we will be delighted.”
Kilmarnock is one of the world’s older pipe band, founded in 1933. It’s best showing in Grade 4A in 2018 was a fifth prize at the Scottish Championships at Dumbarton. Beginning in 1998, the band was led by Kenny MacLeod, who took the band from Grade 4 to Grade 2 before leaving in 2002.
Ayrshire over the last decade has seen a decline in top-grade bands. The last Grade 1 band from the region was Ayr Society in the late-1980s. The group continues to compete, now in Grade 3B as the Ayr Pipe Band Society, but in 2018 appeared in only one competition, the British Championships at Paisley, Scotland, in May, where it placed eleventh.
Since David Wilton took over Lomond & Clyde in 2015, the band has made a successful move to Grade 1.