by Megan Canning | Jun 23, 2014
Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band finished 6th at the first ever United Kingdom Pipe Band Championships, held last weekend in Belfast on Saturday 14 June. The UK Championship was the second of the RSPBA’s five major championships in 2014, and the inaugural competition was introduced as a replacement for the Cowal Championship which had previously been a staple on the pipe band calendar for most of the last century. While the event was new, the city of Belfast has been a regular host for RSPBA major championships in recent years, and the beautiful Stormont Estate was once again the location for another successful contest. For Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia, the trip to Belfast was the first competition outside of Scotland under the now two-year leadership of Pipe Major Ryan Canning. While Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia is of course one of Scotland’s great success stories, it also has ties to Northern Ireland through the storied history of the McAllister family who were themselves originally from Ulster, as is the band’s current Pipe Major. Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia made the most of the trip and enjoyed a stay in the countryside at the La Mon Hotel in Co. Down, and were generously hosted at a special band BBQ by Shotts drummer Gareth McLees and his generous family in Belfast.
The positioning of the new UK Pipe Band Championships in the month of June means that the 2014 pipe band calendar now boasts three major championships in a short five week succession. For competing bands, this means the challenge of a quick turnaround in ensuring all repertoire is competition ready, as major championships alternate consecutively between MSR and Medley events. For Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia, the UK Pipe Band Championship was the first MSR outing of the season. The warm and overcast weather in the early afternoon provided excellent conditions for tuning pipes and preparing instruments, however the final countdown to the band’s performance with hot patches of direct sunlight meant that the band’s skills were put to the test. The band went on to compete in hot sunny weather, drawing The Highland Wedding, Susan MacLeod and John Morrison on the line. When the results were called, the band’s performance earned a 6th place finish. You can watch the MSR performance on Youtube, thanks to the efforts of DroneChorus:
Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia can next be seen at the European Pipe Band Championships in Forres, Scotland, on Saturday 28 June.