Lewis Pipe Band gets help to attend comp

A group shot of Lewis Pipe Band after they became European Champions.
A group shot of Lewis Pipe Band after they became European Champions.

Lewis Pipe Band have been given £1,000 by community wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust to help keep them in the championship game.

The band are heading for the Scottish Championships in Dumbarton on Saturday, July 29, and were relieved to have the equivalent cost of their coach hire covered by Point and Sandwick.

Five pipe band championships are held in the UK every year but Lewis Pipe Band usually only attend two due to the exorbitant costs of travel.

They recently attended the European Championships in Forres — where they had been crowned winners of Grade 3a last year.

They had a disappointing finish this year but are now determined to be ready for the Scottish Championships, where 130 pipe bands will be taking part.

“All focus is now on the Scottish Championships”, said pipe band chairman Sandy Gomez this week, describing it as “a whole new trip; a whole new experience” as it will be their first time there.

As well as the European and Scottish Championships, the UK also hosts the British, UK and World Championships during the year. Many bands attend all the competitions but, with each trip to the mainland costing Lewis Pipe Band around £5000, they have to be selective.

Pipe band championships are big events, with the Worlds, usually held on Glasgow Green in August, being the biggest draw.

Lewis Pipe Band, although it was formed in 1904, is a relatively newcomer on the competition scene. They began competing in 2007 and then annually from 2012 onwards.

They enjoyed quick success, with consecutive wins meaning a series of promotions through the competition grades.

Sandy said: “That’s a rapid rise. Normally bands spend a few years in each grade, so we were jumping up the grades, as much to our own surprise as anyone else’s.”

He credited Pipe Major Peter Mackay for that rise. “His ear for sound is second to none. The sound he can get out of so few pipers is mind-blowing sometimes and it’s been commented on by other bands.”

Sandy said the £1000 from Point and Sandwick was effectively paying for the coach hire, adding it had taken a huge strain off fundraising efforts. It costs between £10,000 and £12,000 a year to keep the band running.

He said: “We’re grateful for anything we get in the collecting cans and for people who turn up to our fundraising nights.”