Peebles Ex-Servicemen's
Pipe Band





Two competitions in September. The first is Peebles Highland Games. A superb sunny and warm autumn day meant great playing conditions. The Band played extremely well, just a tiny bit off the performance at the World Championships. Always a wee bit more pressure to do well at your own event. A well deserved placing of 4th was the result and a pleasing out come for the home team. The Band was also judged to be the best band in the parade to the High Street and more silverware for the day.




The second competition was Innerleithen Pipe Band Championships to round off a busy year. A placing of 5th on the day.


August was kicked off with the now annual journey to the competition at North Berwick and a placing of 14th.


World Championships

Not sure if it was the first time, but if not, certainly the first time in many years, the Band entered the World Championships at Glasgow Green. Despite some wee hiccups with the bus the Band played the best they have ever played and were placed 27th out of the 60 bands which competed. An enjoyable day which was buzzing and the members enjoyed the occasion.


Sanquhar Riding of their Marches

Another of the now annual trips to Sanquhar. The Band travels by minibus to this event. The day kicks off with the Crowning of the Queen and the parade round the Town. After refreshments the Bands enter a competition in the afternoon to entertain the crowds. There is a massed bands parade in the evening when the prizes for the competition are awarded. Peebles took the best drum corps and the marching and discipline prize this year. The customary stop in Biggar for fish and chips is alway enjoyed on the route home. Always an enjoyable outing to Sanquhar.


Cowal Gathering

A regular annual weekend trip for the Band to the Cowal Highland Gathering. The Band have made this trip for a great many years. Unfortunately a few nerves on the competition field meant a placing of 13th. However the fancy dress parade down the High Street, this year as pirates, was well received. The crowds as always are huge and Peebles took up the rear of the parade being the last Band down. It took about an hour and a half with many stops to entertain the appreciative crowds. As always a great weekend.




This tends to be the month when most Band members manage to take their holidays during a busy playing schedule. Two engagements for our dear neighbours at Innerleithen during Games week. Again huge crowds for the parades on Thursday night for the fancy dress and on the Saturday morning for the Flower Parade. On both occasions the weather held for the parades but immediately after the heavens opened. Another very enjoyable outing to Innerleithen.


The Band travelled again to Newtongrange to play for their festival. This is a massed bands event and is always well received in the Town. The sight and sound of five pipe bands is impressive. The bands played through the town initially and then played in the park after the crowning of the Queen.


Beltane Queen Festival and Riding of the Marches

The week commenced with the now familiar sight of the Beltane Queen being piped home from her party on the Friday evening. A sunny but chilly evening and lots of excited children meant a very noisy escort.



Another lovely sunny evening for the opening service at the Cross Kirk. This was a first Beltane outing for quite a few members of the Band, especially the new tenor section. The addition of tenor drummers is welcomed. A few nerves as is always the case with the first outing at Beltane in front of the home crowd. No need to have worried, the Band looked and sounded great.


Monday night, again the weather was kind as the Band entertained the residents of Dovecote. The Band plays in the gardens with Venlaw Hill providing a lovely backdrop. Several well known sets are played and the evening is always well received by the residents.


Wednesday night, a long engagement, the Bands duties start with entertaining the people of Peebles outside the Tontine after the installation of the Cornet and his lass. They then play up to Haylodge Hospital where they play for the patients. Again the weather was kind with us escaping some extremely loud thunder claps and adverse weather reports of torrential rain. The Band then play back down to the High Street after the fording of the Tweed. The night culminated with the playing of the reel outside the Tontine at 10pm.


Thursday night is a night for the younger members of the Band, when those members of a certain age receive a welcome night off. The youngsters in the Band have the opportunity of showing what they can do by playing for the junior ride out. A good turnout and a lot of enjoyment from the members.

Friday, always a big night as the crowds are huge on the High Street for the Fancy dress parade. A clear night meant for an enjoyable march, the biggest Band of the week with eighteen pipers and a full drum corps. After the parade the Band played reels for the Cornet and his lass in both the Ex-servicemen's Club and the Rugby Club finishing at around 11pm.


Saturday, up early and off to Halyrude Roman Catholic Primary School to pipe the children down the street. The Band then join their colleagues of Peebles Burgh Silver Band for the now traditional 'Come o'er the Hills the Peebles" accompanying the principals and guests. The comments from the public show that this particular joint venture between the Bands is really appreciated. After the Crowning the Band enjoys the parade, again the crowds are huge. The weather held again although a cold wind. The two Bands then attend the memorial service at the Quadrangle at the Burgh Hall. The final flourish is the short march to the Band hall at the Ex-Servicemen's Club and the week is done. Pies and a pint are then the order of the day for all of the Bands taking part.



A long, exhausting but exhilarating week finished for another year.


Dunbar Competition

May saw the first outdoor competition for the Band at Dunbar. Usually very blustery and cold, this year was no different. A placing of 10th. The Band headed to the British Championships at Dumbarton. A contest the Band had not undertaken in recent times. The weather was cold with torrential downpours, one such downpour minutes before the band took to the field. A steady performance. The Band came 15th in their qualifying pool.


The Band once again headed to Eddleston for their festival. On a gloriously sunny Friday evening and missing the Pipe Major and Band Sergeant, the very young Band performed admirably led by Scott Johnston. The procession took to every part of the village, always a pleasure to see so many wee ones in the parade following the Band.


Another outing the same weekend was Penicuik. A dry warmish day made for an enjoyable march the length of Penicuik. Another long and enjoyable march through the centre of Penicuik, with huge crowds cheering the procession.



Again, that same weekend, the Band attended the Jowett Car Rally in Haylodge Park. The was a first for the Band. Quite spectacular to be playing amongst so many beautiful cars. The weather was fine and sunny and the cars were fantastic. An unusual playing engagement but an enjoyable one.




A large number of learners and band members went through to Livingston for the first competition of the season. This is an indoor competition for younger individuals learning the chanter, and for drummers sticks and pads. Older children and youngsters compete solo on pipes and drums. There is also a mini-bands competition where up to four pipers can play in a band. Peebles were well represented. Rory Laidlaw, Skye Coombe, entered the solo chanter competition. Both played very well, Rory took second place. Evan McIver, Arran Cameron, Alisdair Gemmel, undertook the solo piping. All equated themselves extremely well with Arran securing third place. There were two mini bands competing, coming 4th and 6th respectively. April also saw the Introduction of the Cornet, Lass and Principals. The Band's first outing of the year in Peebles. It was the first public performance of the tenor section of the band and there were a number of new pipers and drummers who played for the first time.


The first engagement of the year was a late request to play at the Old Age Pensioners Treat held at the Hydro. Despite the short notice the Band were able and delighted to help out. The performance was, as always well received by the Pensioners.



Two members of the Band teach the children at Kingsland Primary School. Sally Swinney and Emily Watson attended the nursery on 24th January to help the children celebrate Burns day. The children were told about the chanter and pipes and then marched behind two pipers round the playground.


The school held its annual Scottish afternoon, on the 25th, Scott Johnstone and Sally Swinney guided a large number of children playing chanters, pipes and drums who performed in front of the entire school. For most of the children, this was their first public performance and they all did extremely well.






As always the Band helped the town celebrate the switch on of the Christmas Lights. It was a very mild night and the Band welcomed the first outing of the tenor section. A number of drummers and pipers encountered their first outing with the Band and it is hoped they enjoy many more outings.


Several junior band members played at the High School Christmas Concert.



The last engagement of the year before a well earned break over Christmas was the AGM and Presentation Night. In its fourth year, all learners and members played for their parents. The hall was packed and the young learners did themselves, their parents and the Band proud. Some of the learners had been learning for a short while but their enthusiasm was self evident. It bodes extremely well for the future of the Band that so many youngsters are interested in playing.




A number of awards were presented during the evening:


The George Fairbairn Endeavour Shield presented to Callum Cameron and Heidi Holt

The Peebles Highland Games Association Plate for the Most Improved Learner was presented to Skye Combe

Most Improved Piper was presented to Alistair Gemmell

Most Improved Drummer was presented to Ellie McGovern

Players Player was presented to Scott Johnstone




A busy September saw the Band engaged with Peebles Highland Games, Innerleithen Pipe Band Championships and a booking in Stirling when the played at another Wedding


A first for the Band was an invitation to play at the Scottish Parliament. The Band assisted the Charity Mellow Parenting to celebrate their 10th Birthday. As the Charity deals with children, three of the younger members attended



Alistair Gemmel; Arran Cameron; Mark McDonald, MSP; Rosemary McKenzie, CEO; Humza Yousef, MSP; Evan McIver


There was the now customary appearance at Sanquhar, this is an engagement which the Band has played for a number of years. It consists of a parade round the town in the morning, a competition in the afternoon and massed bands in the early evening. The weather, once again was kind and the Band were exceptionally proud to win the Champion Band trophy at the competition.



August continued with the annual outing to Cowal for the weekend. Again a superb weekend was had by those making the journey, much enjoyment in the parade through the streets to end the weekend.


The Band were invited to play twice at Innerleithen Games Week. On the Thursday evening the sun shone whilst we played for the Fancy Dress Parade. There were food crowds and the event was enjoyed by those members who were Present. We again played on Saturday morning as the parade was taken round the town. We also played in the Union Club for the members which was well received by those in attendance


The next week on the 4th of June the Band made an appearance at the Alex Lucas Memorial Football Tournament. Again the weather was extremely warm with sunshine all afternoon. The Band also played on Tweed Green prior to the Red Arrows appearance, there were huge crowds and every member of the Band enjoyed the appearance. The engagement was concluded with an appearance in the Ex-Servicemen’s Club prior to the guests sitting down to dinner. It was a special day enjoyed by all.


June 11th was the Band's annual appearance at Newtongrange. Shannon Bisset's first appearance with the Band and she coped admirably with it. This is a massed Bands event and is a change from the other outings of the year. The Band played with five other Pipe Bands in a street parade and then later in the afternoon on the towns park.


The Bands biggest event of the year was our own annual festival, The Beltane. A much anticipated event and although a long week, an extremely enjoyable one. Various pipers kicked off the week and had the pleasure of piping the Beltane Queen home from her party at Kingsland on the Friday before the Beltane started.


Sadly the weather let us down on the Sunday with the service being held in the Parish Church. A shorter march along the High Street and back again got the week off to a damp start.


Monday saw the Band playing for the residents at Dovecote Road, this is an annual commitment which was much appreciated by the residents. After that appearance finished the members re-formed at the Community Centre to pipe the Beltane Queen home after the children’s disco.


The Band were out again on the Tuesday when they participated in the Beltane Sports. There was the usual excitement for the Band race with a number of members fancying their chances. Eventually won by Scott Murdoch, so we are told! The photo shows the effort put in by many of the members to win this prestigious event.



Another annual engagement on the Wednesday evening, this time playing for the patients at Haylodge Hospital. The patients, as always, showing their appreciation for the appearance. A return to the High Street in time for the playing of the reel for the Cornet and his supporters. Brilliant night, enjoyed by all members. Stevie Mathieson from Off the Back Barbers has allowed us to use his photograph taken after the reel. Thanks also to Scott Rae for his very atmospheric photos of the reel





Thursday night has traditionally been the night off for the Band, however this year the Beltane Committee asked us to play for the Junior Rideout. The weather was fantastic and the youngsters had a thoroughly enjoyable time. Although a much smaller Band for this evening performance the sound was nonetheless not diminished, but some of the older members needed a night off!


Friday night was the fancy dress parade and the weather was awful. Lots and lots of fantastic costumes as evidence of the hard work undertaken by many residents over the previous weeks and months. It was a large parade as always and the weather didn’t diminish the enthusiasm of the participants. The Band received an anonymous donation which they used to purchase a medal. The medal was presented on Friday evening to Shannon Bisset as the Best New Member at Beltane.


Saturday started badly with more rain, the Crowning had to be held in the church but the weather improved significantly ensuring that the parade was able to continue as usual. Another fabulous Beltane week with the Band the biggest it has ever been. The playing was of a high standard throughout the whole week and although most members were extremely tired, many memories were made.


The Band undertook some fundraising during Beltane week, people were asked to guess how many steps Sally Swinney would take during the week. The total was 42,775 or just over 20 miles. The winner was exceptionally close with 42,602 and came from Edinburgh winning a prize of £50. (Photo courtesy of Rye Swinney)



The Band were booked to play at a wedding at Portmore. We played whilst the Bride entered the church in Innerleithen and at the evening reception. Once again, another enjoyable occasion and we wish the happy couple all the very best for their lives together.


The Band extends a huge thank you to Leyla Anderson at the Ex-Servicemen’s Club who arranged a Stars in their Eyes event at the Club on the 7th of May. A number of artists sung and this was an extremely enjoyable evening of entertainment. The result was some fantastic fundraising in aid of the Band and First Responders. £2700 was raised and split between the two organisations, a fantastic effort.


The next outing of the Band was a rare appearance with the Queens Archers on the 14th of May. It was a privilege and pleasure to lead the Company of Archers to Haylodge Park where they competed for the silver arrow. The weather was kind with some spring sunshine all afternoon. Once the competition had concluded the Band returned the Archers to the High Street.



On the 27th of May the Band were once again invited to play at Eddleston for their annual festival. The weather held and we managed to play the entire way round the village without rain. An enjoyable engagement as always.


The next day on 28th May the Band visited Penicuik for the Penicuik Hunter festival. This is another annual event and again was played in lovely sunshine. A large parade with a number of pipe and brass bands ensured the residents of Penicuik were well entertained.


The first outing of the Band is as always the Cornets Introduction Night on 16th April. It is always a very exciting night, not only for the principals but also as this is the night the Band uses to introduce new members to their first outing. This year was no exception with a number of new members making their first appearance. As always they performed really well, keeping nerves in check and enjoyed the experience.