The following History of the Reading Scottish Pipe Band was written in August 2007 for the 50th Anniversary of the Reading Scottish. It was an update to the original written for the 40th Anniversary. Please note that this document has not been updated since then, and some sections, such as the list of members, may still pre-date 2007.
The original Reading Scottish Pipe Band - A History 1957-1997 was crafted by David Henson, a past drummer, piper, Treasurer and Chairman, who joined the band in 1967.
For the 50th Anniversary of the Band, David was invited to “update” the Band History. This was not a simple task and the rewrite (for such it became) and inclusion of the section on the history of the Cameron Highlanders involved a great deal of effort, for which the Band expresses its thanks and acknowledges that without David Henson, this rewrite would not have happened.
Subsequently, the Committee, when delivered of David’s manuscript, added some photographs and additional materiel from Band Records and a completely new section on “Today’s Band” – to the extent that the Committee takes full responsibility for all errors and omissions. The section on “Band Members” is not complete.
THE READING SCOTTISH PIPE BAND
Piob Mhor – translated from the Gaelic-‘The Great Highland Bagpipe”
Bagpipes, of one design or another, have been depicted on wall frieze carvings, drawings and paintings throughout the ages. The three drone instrument of today was standardised in Scotland about 1700. Prior to this there were one or two drones.
Undoubtedly this one single instrument has brought people together throughout the world, and from all walks of life, to form small groups or a band in order to play their beloved pipes. They do not necessarily have to be Scots. In 1995, Edinburgh hosted the first massed gathering of 4000 pipers and drummers from all over the world in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care. In 2000 and 2005 the figure was nearer 8000.
The First Year
In Reading in 1957 some ‘exile’ Scots pipers came together to play for special Scottish occasions, and from this very small beginning The Reading Scottish Band owes its formation. Through good years and lean years the band survived, and now it celebrates its fiftieth year, and has a strong active membership. The fortunes of the band have always been linked to St Andrew’s Church in London Road, Reading. The ‘exile’ Scots referred to were members of its congregation, so a brief history of the church seems appropriate.
In 1875 the Presbyterian Church sanctioned the opening of a new church in Reading to be known as St Andrews. By June of 1876 a temporary “iron structure “was in use on a small piece of land owned by the Redlands Estate, on the corner of London Road and Redlands Road, adjacent to the Royal Berkshire Hospital. A report in February 1880 states ‘work is in progress with the new structure replacing the iron church recently pulled down.’ March 2nd of that year saw the memorial stone being laid. At a luncheon given after this ceremony the Rev Dr Donald Fraser caused some laughter when he said, “- as to the name St Andrew, some people thought he was a Scotchman, but he (Dr Fraser) did not believe that himself.’ On Thursday October 28th the stone built Kirk was formally opened with a seating capacity for 600 people. Later the addition of two side aisles increased the capacity to over 800.
Due to continuing structural damage over the years the church had to be demolished, and the present day building was opened in 1972.
The Reading Standard of January 29th 1954 has a picture on the front page of a Sandy Blyth playing at a Burns Night for the Caledonian Society. Sandy Blyth, a member of the church, was an ex-Sergeant Piper who had served in the Cameron Highlanders and was instrumental in organising the band.
|He wrote to the commanding officer of his old regiment for permission to wear the Cameron of Erracht tartan also the regimental St Andrew’s Cross cap badge, and this was granted. The Cameron clan is one of the original clans that go back into the mists of Scottish history, and as such has been very involved in the turbulent times of Scotland. The Cameron chiefs fought with Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745 and went into exile after the battle of Culloden. A short history of the Regiment is at Annex A.|
A photograph in the Reading Standard of November 1956 shows the Minister of St Andrews standing on the steps of the old church with six pipers and two side drummers, all wearing uniform, and the caption reads “from out of town”. This indicates that pipers were brought in for the St Andrew’s Day service of that year.
By the following year, 1957, the Reading St Andrew’s Pipe Band had been formed, probably stimulated because of the necessity to import pipers the previous year. The church hall offered the ideal facilities for practice, and certainly the new hall built in 1972 gave even more convenient and comfortable conditions. A Caledonian Society programme, dated March 7th 1958, lists the tunes being played by the St Andrew’s Pipe Band at their dinner in the Town Hall.
The Reading Scottish Pipe Band
Unfortunately written records for the first few years of the band’s life are virtually non-existent, but by jogging the memories of older members some of the names of those from the very early days can be recorded. As an appreciation for their time and dedication and for those who have served since 1963, it seems fitting that their names should be recorded in this history. See Appendix 1.
Reading Scottish Pipe Band - thought to be 1968
Throughout its fifty years members who joined usually came in one of two categories. The first are those who had been taught from an early age, usually in the Boys Brigade, and a surprising number have come from ex RAF apprentices who were taught at Halton. The second category are those who longed to play but had not had the opportunity to learn. These were generally older, and what they may have lacked in dexterity they more than made up for in enthusiasm and loyalty.
A major problem for the band in the early days was to attract enough members to be able to turn out a reasonable band, in order to earn money to buy kit. For the learners in those days this meant that, if capable of keeping the pipes up when ‘corked out’ or hold drum sticks in the correct manner, they turned out! “Make it look as though you are playing”, was the order of the day. The pressure on those who could play was enormous, and a great debt is owed to these stalwarts who soldiered on, carrying the band and encouraging those ‘coming along’. A good band in those days would consist of six pipers, one or two side drummers and if lucky a base drummer. Of the pipers probably only two would be skilled and the others would be in various stages of learning. At one engagement only two learner pipers turned up and a tenor drummer, and they did a quick blow and disappeared, rapidly. The drummers were equipped with old rope drums and from somewhere came a rather moth eaten leopard skin for the base or tenor drummers.
It is always a tricky problem to mention individuals when so many have contributed to the success of the band, but Pipe Major Sandy Walker deserves such a mention. He served as Pipe Major from 1965 to 1978 and again from 1990 to 1997, and it is for the earlier years of his office that he should receive great credit. He paraded with mainly inexperienced pipers, and had to give them confidence by valiantly playing on as though all was well. Some competent pipers joined the band and soon left because of the standard of play, but Sandy soldiered on till playing improved.
There have been ten Pipe Majors over the last fifty years and all have left their mark.
The present Pipe Major Ron Paterson (pictured left) has been in office for more than ten years and has certainly inspired the band with his dedication and calm approach. Successive Pipe Sergeants and Drum Majors have also played an invaluable part over the years. All of these are recorded in Appendix 2.
The uniform of the early days was a real ‘hodge podge’ of what anyone owned that roughly resembled highland kit, so that different clan tartans were worn. Gradually more Cameron tartan kilts and plaids were acquired, mainly through members buying their own. Ex-army khaki battle dress blouses were purchased and taken home by a lady non-playing member, Millie, and she dyed them green in a large pot on her kitchen stove!
The above photograph taken in the Forbury Gardens, Reading, in the late 60s illustrates the uniform of those days. Before the army blouses were acquired Millie even cut and fashioned white shop overalls to look like military mess jackets. Another member, George Lovering, was very generous with financial contributions to help out and keep the band going.
Reminiscing on ‘the old days’ illustrates the dedication that members had to keep going, and hope for better days. Now fifty years on members are still showing the same willingness to do their best for the band, justifying the dedication given by those in the past who gave the band this legacy.
Gradually, over the years, improvements were made with the kit. Two bolts (120yds) of Cameron tartan were purchased in 1976 allowing 16 kilts and 16 plaids to be made up of the same sett. Later another bolt had to be bought because of the increase in new members. Black doublets were issued in 1973 and finally feather bonnets were issued in 1981. This move to feather bonnets was quite controversial. Apart from the expense (over £100 each at the time) when band funds were not high, there was a determined minority that (correctly) observed that bonnets were quite uncomfortable to play in, compared with Glengarries, and were a mess in rain, and would need to be replaced with new ones in the fullness of time. Nevertheless, the view that bonnets would enhance the appearance of the band (and make paying engagements easier to come by) prevailed. It is interesting to recall that some members either bought their own, or lent the cost of their bonnet to the band, to be re-payed as funds improved.
Around this time another welcome addition was the adoption of white short sleeved shirts. One had to play in full highland gear on a hot summer’s day to really appreciate the value of the shirts. A great debt is owed to Quartermaster Graham Ward who, for some thirty years worked hard and long in his own time to get the best deal and ensure the splendid turnout of the band. His wife Ann altered some uniforms to fit younger members of the band until such time as there were sufficient funds to buy smaller sizes when needed.
In 2005 the addition to the band’s uniform of “day dress” (Argyll jackets, leather sporrans, white hose, white shirt and band tie) was certainly beyond the wildest dreams of the early members. The move was driven by the desires both to be more comfortable at competitions (full band, mini-band, and quartets), and to be smarter in “Summer Dress” – rather than the plain short-sleeved white shirt, as had been the practice. Again a significant number of members bought their own jackets.
As the years passed piping and drumming greatly improved. The instruction became more organised and the repertoire of tunes gradually increased. Two good illustrations from this more professional approach follow. A young soldier stationed at Aborfield Barracks joined the band. He spent all the time he could practising, and eventually he transferred to the Scots Guards as a piper. He later became a sergeant, and passed all the exams to qualify as a Pipe Major. Another young lad joined and went on to join the King’s Own Scottish Borders Band, travelling all over the world with them. The band should certainly take credit for their initial training and enthusiasm.
With the band increasing in size and playing ability, and with its reputation for performance, dress, discipline and reliability, more and more engagements ensued. The first engagements were very local and for a fee that makes strange reading now. One engagement was for a scout parade for which the munificent sum of £5 was paid. The average fee for the same type of parade now in 2007 is £350 to £450. Band members in those early days did not ask for their own expenses so that all fees could go wholly toward the purchase of kit.
A salutary lesson learnt in 1967 was in the care of pipes if stored between performances. The band, while performing at a Remembrance Day Parade at Bracknell, 1966, left their pipes in what they thought was a storage cupboard before attending the service inside the church. Unknown to them this cupboard housed a radiator, thus on performing again after the service, without tuning up which is standard procedure now, the sound was not at all musical!
In 1970 the band joined the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association and through them took part in massed band performances. In 1972 there was a move for the band to become The Royal British Legion Berkshire County Band but after several meetings it became clear that no sponsorship would be available, so in 1973 it was decided to remain independent. Later the band formally changed its name from Reading St Andrew’s to The Reading Scottish Pipe Band, and a Constitution and Rule Book was written. These with minor amendments are still the governing rules of the band. All officers are elected annually at the annual general meeting in September.
Examining letters and invoices from organisations that engaged the band, one theme is apparent, their appreciation and gratitude for its professionalism. At times because of extreme weather conditions or unforeseen circumstances, the band has always been willing to co-operate with any changes of venue for the benefit of the organisers. Added to this has been the obvious pleasure its playing has given to spectators.
Appendix 3 lists some of the places where the band has performed, radiating out from Reading, and as can be seen, a wide area has been covered. Playing over such an area has brought attention to the band, and other engagements have been forthcoming. Appendix 4 highlights the more memorable events, some details of which follow.
June 1972 the band entered its first competition at The Highland Gathering in Richmond, Surrey. In July the band was in a massed pipes spectacular during the Festival of the City of London, and this took place under floodlights, in the moat of the Tower of London. In October the first of several visits over the years was paid to The Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst to play for the Royal British Legion.
In 1973 the band played with massed pipes at the Twickenham Rugby Ground in a memorial game for a rugby team that died in a plane crash. Many of the top rugby players of the day from England and France participated in the game that followed.
The real turning point for the band to appreciate that all the hard practicing was paying off was when it was asked to go to Belgrade, Yugoslavia, to play for the New Year, from Dec 27th 1974 to Jan 3rd 1975. It was to be one of the first bands to go behind what was then known as ‘The Iron Curtain’. There was feverish activity to put together a stage performance and to ensure marching tunes were up to standard. Travelling with them were Scottish Dancers and the Kennet Morris Men. The whole visit was a huge success with the band playing in the streets, at a children’s hospital, in a theatre for a live performance that was televised to other Iron Curtain countries. New Year’s Eve found them outside in a main square playing to a crowd who were quite boisterous, and at one time someone noticed one of the crowd was firing a pistol in the air! Many stories are told of this time but one outstanding one was the introduction of the band to “slivovic” - heated plum brandy. It was very cold playing outside and this was very warming, but it did make the spats curl back! A new experience also was to be kissed by male Yugoslavs at a party, on the cheek it should be added! After this tour there was a new air of confidence in the band.
During 1975 the Yugoslav Dance team that had hosted the band over in their country came to London, and the band performed with them in Trafalgar Square and in the Albert Hall. This year also saw a small event that those who witnessed it never forgot. It occurred at a large psychiatric hospital in Southall. The band was performing and had formed a large circle playing ‘Amazing Grace’ with the base drummer in the centre. Into the ring stepped a young man in flowing white robes, a patient, and started a slow dance in perfect time to the music. The dance was so perfectly executed that everyone became completely absorbed in watching him. Exactly at the end of the music he finished crouching in front of the base drummer, who was frantically trying to peer over the top of the drum to see where he had gone. All who saw it were quite moved. When the band coach was leaving the dancer came on board and presented a flower.
The summer of 1976 is remembered as being the hottest one for many years, with no rain in June, July and most of August. All through that time, the main period for engagements, the band had sweated through them in its thick uniform, hoping it would dry out before the next parade. Then toward the end of August, on a Saturday night, when parading in the Newbury Carnival, the weather broke halfway through the march. The heavens opened up and it poured or as the Scots say, ”It fair stotted doun”. Normally spectators disappear when this happens but because the rain was so welcome, and it was a warm rain, nobody moved and the band received a tremendous ovation for continuing to march and play. It took days to dry out. Another unusual event that year was to be engaged to play at a Hunt Ball at Dewlish House in Dorset. The local hunting fraternity were at this ball which took place in huge marquees. A coach was hired for this occasion, because it was a late night venue, lam. Ray Ellington of the very popular ‘Goon Show’ was there and mingled with the band.
The Queen and Prince Philip passed through Theale in 1978 and the band was asked to play at a point along the route. This was duly acknowledged by a royal wave.
The Golden Jubilee of the RSPBA, 1980, saw the band participating in massed pipes beating retreat in Henley-on-Thames. This year too the band was to parade, as it did for several following years, for the Dunkirk Veterans Association. This was considered to be a great honour, and on this first occasion it was made more so by the fact that when the parade ended one of the veterans started to clap the band, and this was taken up by the whole parade. Even the ‘hard bitten’ Drum Major Bob Nicol did not have a dry eye! The 8th November was another big occasion when, on a bitterly cold day, the band took part in London’s Lord Mayor’s Show. All bands lined up in the Honourable Artillery Barracks; waiting to be slotted into the procession as it went by. There were the Scots Guards, Middlesex Yeomanry, Honourable Artillery, Royal Marines, Queens (TA), Royal Yeomanry, RAF Halton Pipes and Brass, a band from Rotterdam, Salvation Army, RAF Central, London Scottish, Brigade of Gurkhas, WRAC, Queen’s Regiment, Royal Danish Life Guards, Mounted Band Blues and Royals, Royal Artillery. Together they made a very colourful display with all the different uniforms, and there was a lot of banter about wearing the kilt on such a cold day! Those who were there were proud to be part of such a spectacular event, and the large crowd that always gathers for this show were appreciative of the massed pipes and drums of the RSPBA. An epic story from this day is of a piper, who will be nameless, who forgot to bring his pipes so had to march without playing! Such is the stuff of legends.
In 1981 the band went to Meaux in France and from this visit came an engagement to play in a village nearby in 1982, Changis-sur-Marne. This was to be the first of several bi-yearly visits to play at their carnival, and proved to be a very popular venue due to the overwhelming hospitality of their hosts. Band members stayed in the homes of the villagers and a great time was had, much champagne and wine being imbibed. The band returned the hospitality by entertaining their hosts in Reading.
An interesting anecdote took place while playing at the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. The bands were lined up in single file formation with the a prestigeous Police Pipe Band on the outside file and the Reading Scottish alongside them. The bands set off and after a while those in the Reading Scottish began to think they were playing the wrong tune! It transpired the Police were playing ‘Jingle Bells’ which ceased as their Pipe Major, aware of what was happening, came down the ranks. Did he let them know after ?
A Special Olympics was held in Reading in 1991 at which the band performed and were moved by the enthusiasm of the youngsters taking part.
1993 was to be a sad year for the band when two playing members died. Dave Kauder, a piper, who joined the band in 1971. He was a very enthusiastic member who eventually became the hardworking secretary of the band. His family donated a piper’s banner which is still carried by the Piper Major. The other member was Jeffrey Ward, a piper and Drum Major, a quiet man for this position but in command and popular.
Many performances have taken place in the town of Farnham. These are remembered because they are part of a torchlight procession through the town which ends in a very long uphill march to the field for a static performance and fireworks. Marching uphill and playing is an experience that is never forgotten.
1995 and the 50th Anniversary of the end of WW2 was celebrated with the band performing at Bracknell on May 8th to a large audience for VE Day, also on August 13th for VJ Day when Royal British Legion Veterans paraded their colours at a church in Henley. The day being very warm the band paraded in white shirtsleeve order and photographs display the fine appearance of a large band.
1997 saw a long journey to Kinugawa, Japan. This engagement, although exciting, was very exhausting as three performances a day were given for nine days. The humidity was high, and drying out equipment before the next performance became a major problem. A poem written at the time by piper John. Miller, sums up the mood.
The Joys of Kinugawa
It’s old “Jimmy Findlater”, and here we go again.
My chanter reed has opened out, it plays one note in ten.
My drones are out of harmony and driving me insane,
But, Oh, the joys of playing in Kinugawa!
We’re now in the second part (Dear God, how’s this it goes?)
The sweat is getting in my eyes and running off my nose.
If this goes on much longer it will marinade my toes,
But, Oh, the joys of playing in Kinugawa!
The crowd has got its cameras: They’re swinging to the lilt.
One guy is lying on the ground, a flash gun to my kilt.
I wonder if he’ll find out how foreigners are built?
Oh, the joys of playing in Kinugawa!
“Kon nichi wa!”, “Arigato!” (that’s all my Japanese).*
I didn’t know I could perspire so freely at the knees.
Just put me through the wringer Mum, and hang me in the breeze
And I’ll forget the joys of Kinugawa.
*Kon nichi wa = Hello
Arigato = Thank you
A Japanese explanation of the pipes is worth recording. ‘The bagpipes are folk instruments that consist of a leather made bag and several reeds. The instrument is often used to perform English (author's italics) folk songs.’
A group travelling to Germany in 1996 crossed on the Scandinavian Seaways vessel MS Hamburg during which they played for the passengers. They were rewarded with a certificate for their performance, now in the band archives.
The trip to Sicily December 2002 is remembered for the many, many hours spent on the hired bus, more than the time spent in the hotel! Marching through narrow, steep, uneven streets proved a trial but the reception was enthusiastic. In the town of Messina a gap opened up between the pipers and drummers because the drummers had to mark time at a pedestrian crossing! In another village two locals performed on Sicilian bagpipes, Zampognas, the bag being made from whole skin of sheep or goats. They also have two chanters. One evening Mount Etna could be seen with a long river of glowing lava flowing down and large lumps being thrown in the air.
A near full band went to Menton, the South of France in January 2003. This was an enjoyable trip. There was praise came from the local police for the band’s continuous performance on route. Apparently two previous pipe bands had not been so generous. This desire of the band to satisfy the audience has always been its first priority and is part of its history.
April 2003 and the band is at Roses, a holiday resort on the Costa Brava, Spain. This trip was very popular as the band arrived two days before being due to perform so had a relaxing time in good weather. As usual, in order to give full value to the organisers, the band played an extra performance the night before the main event. This took place in the main square with various other bands and dancers. The weather was very hot but the spectacle of the Reading Scottish Pipe Band was enthusiastically received.
An International Folk Festival in 2004 saw pipers and drummers in Sardinia. This trip is remembered for the venue, a large amphitheatre cut into the hillside. Other performers came from Georgia, Yugoslavia, Spain and Columbia, South America. Once again the Scottish contribution was very appreciated.
January 2005 in Northern Spain at Valladolid and the band has problems with the cold, around zero, and condensation. All pipers know how chanter reeds are affected by this combination, and the Pipe Major’s usual patience and calm was tested to the full. The procession, led by the band, was preceded by a group of about a dozen horses. Past memories of marching around manure were fortunately not repeated as a lady with a ‘dustcart’ followed the horses. The local people were very friendly and appreciative.
The town of Metz is some 300 miles west of Calais near the German border, and the band was booked to play in a procession and a concert. The year was 2006. Fifteen members of the band plus fourteen pipers and drummers from four other bands were under the direction of Pipe Major Ron Paterson. The procession was very large with bands from other countries participating. There was the usual stopping and starting which seems inevitable in long processions, and this meant playing for two and a half hours! Very exhausting, particularly when drinks were not available. It is the custom of the band to form a circle when stationary in processions, so as to entertain the waiting crowd, this was greeted with great enthusiasm, and was very rewarding. Another ‘event’ occurred during the evening performance on stage. Part way through the end of the last tunes loud noises were heard off stage and a 24 metre high ‘insect’ appeared, towering over all, and advanced toward the stage. The band beat a quiet quick retreat to the back of the stage, and the bus.
The highlight for 2006 must be the October visit to Rome. This involved a television appearance for an Italian travel programme, to be broadcast around Christmas, and a two hour slow procession in a suburb of the city, arranged by the church of St Lucia for its 50th anniversary. Although quite an exhausting march the enthusiasm of the crowd, who had never seen a pipe band before, more than compensated for it. One particular incident deserves reporting. The Pipe Major was taken to the event in style in a Mercedes driven by the organiser’s wife, also onboard were two lady guides. According to the Pipe Major, two were on mobile phones, the third was singing to the radio and a Satnav was giving instruction. All were having to speak up to be heard. Ron sat bemused with all these Italian voices going on around him. Maybe the pipes sounded heavenly after this.
The end of the year and the band was at its annual venue at St Andrews Church to play for the celebration of St Andrews Day. As the band enters its Fiftieth Year it should be remembered that it was in 1957 that pipers gathered for the first time for this occasion in this location.
Fortunately for the band, in 1991 piper Keith Youldon volunteered to keep a record of the history of the band and its members. This has been mainly with photographs, some of which were donated by past members. It will be due to these meticulous archives that future members will be able to look back and see those who served in the past.
These few accounts of some of the events in the busy year on year schedule of the band, indicates the diversity of the events where it performs. This is still continuing into this year of 2007.
Apart from band highlights, individual bandsmen have performed either solo or in small groups. All pipers, as a natural course, are sought out to play at the New Year, Burn’s Night and weddings. The wide area the band has covered has alerted people to the whereabouts of a piper.
Sandy Walker and Ron Paterson were the two pipers featured in the popular film ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral.’ Other pipers have appeared on stage at local amateur society plays that required the Piob Mhor.
Groups of pipers have been asked to appear in festivals in many countries. The credit for this is due to the recognition of the professionalism of the band by booking agents. The Full Highland Dress is a stirring sight for an audience. It has to be remembered that the resources to acquire this regalia has come from the efforts of all members who have turned out to the more mundane venues.
Here are a list of some of the countries and overseas towns where the Reading Scottish Pipe Band or individual members have been enthusiastically welcomed.
Australia – Geelong
France – Changis-sur-Marne, Marseilles, Nice, Menton, Metz, Tours, La Grande Motte, Nierbronne-les-Bains
Germany – Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, Dortmund, Burg, Hanover, Bochum, Hanover, Bielefield, Munster, Hamelin, Witten, Herford, Alpstadt, Holzninden, Huckarde, Hoxtar
Norway – Rorcs.
Sweden – Stockholm, Gavie.
Switzerland – Berne, Geneva, Lucerne.
Finland – Helsinki, Orimatlila, Karis.
Italy – Sicily, Rome, Sardinia,.
Spain – Valladolid, Figueras, Roses
Japan – Kinugawa.
USA- New York. World mass band parade for Marie Curie Cancer Care
Scotland – Edinburgh. World mass band for the 2000 Millennium Parade in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care – 8,500 pipes and drums
This band, and individual pipers with drummers, have been asked to perform because the Reading Scottish Pipe Band has always prided itself in its policy of professionalism at all times. The adherence to this policy has proved its value by the many and varied engagements it has fulfilled during all these years.
When individual people meet to join in an activity that gives them and others pleasure, and creates such a unit that, because of the legacy handed down, it sustains itself even as individuals leave and others join, then that is something to be proud of. This is what the Reading Scottish Pipe Band has done for the last fifty years with its desire to play the PIOB MHOR. Whether the original members ever gave a thought to the band surviving this long one cannot say, but those who have served since are grateful to them for their endeavours and dedication in the beginning. It is to be hoped that maybe, sometimes, when present day members are out in their full regalia they will give a thought to those who have contributed in the past.
The writer of this band history had the privilege to be a member for over 35 years, and experienced at first hand the kind of dedication and friendship that created and sustained it through all its fifty years. Many thanks are due to those who contributed to this record.
It is to be hoped that those joining the band in the future will read this history and feel the same pride as those who went before and left them this legacy.
Some notes on “Today’s Band” are included at Annex B
It seems fitting to close with some lines from the Bard of Scotland, Robbie Burns. This is from his poem Tam o’ Shanter:-
There sat Auld Nick, in shape o’ beast
A tousie tyke, black, grim and large,
To give them music was his charge;
He screw’d the pipes and girt them skirl,
Till roof and rafters a’ did dirl.
ANNEX A: The Regiment
ANNEX B : Today’s Band
Appendix 1: Members List – past and present
Appendix 2: Roll of PM; DM; DSgt
Appendix 3: UK Venues
Appendix 4: Events & Tours
ANNEX A: The Regiment
In 1794 Allan Cameron, brother of the chief of the Cameron Clan, himself a soldier who had fought on the Loyalist side in the American War of Independence 1775, wanted to prove the loyalty of the clan to the crown in its war against the French. He received authorisation to raise a regiment from the men of Lochaber, Appin, Morven and Mull and the 79th (Cameron Highlanders) Regiment was formed.
It was considered that red, the prevailing colour of the Cameron of Lochiel tartan would not harmonise well with the scarlet military coat. On the suggestion of Alan Cameron’s mother, the MacDonald tartan was selected but with the addition of the yellow stripe of the Cameron to replace the three red lines of the MacDonald. The resulting design became known as the Cameron of Errachd (Erracht) tartan.
The regiment’s first active service was in the Netherlands against the French 1794/95 then again in 1799 in Holland. After this they served in Egypt against Napoleon. In 1808 the regiment was with the army of General Sir John Moore and served in the disastrous campaign known as the Peninsular War. This ended with a 200 mile marching retreat to Corunna during which the 79th crossed snow and ice bound mountains. Food supplies gave out, transport was inadequate, and rearguard actions had to be fought all the time to keep off the French cavalry. The ragged, famished and exhausted troops arrived in Corunna and after another violent battle managed a successful evacuation.
May 1815 found the 79th stationed in Brussels, and during the night of June 15th when the officers were attending the historic eve of Waterloo Ball, news arrived that Napoleon was advancing on Brussels. Pipes and drums sounded the alarm and the officers quietly left the dance to rejoin their units. The 79th with pipes leading marched to engage the French. After a vigorous fight in which they sustained severe losses they withdrew to a line at the village of Waterloo. Here, for several hours on June 18th, the 79th resisted attack after attack by columns of infantry and surging masses of cavalry. Piper Kenneth MacKay, a native of Tongue, Sutherland, stepped outside the square to play and encourage the regiment. Close on 500 hundred Camerons were killed or wounded. Lieutenant Alexander Cameron, nephew of the founder was one of the few surviving officers.
During the 1850’s pipes and drums amalgamated together as a unit. Prior to this the drums were used to relay commands, but as tactics changed bugles were used and now drummers carried a bugle.
The 79th fought in the Crimean War of 1855.
In 1873 Queen Victoria decreed that her ‘beloved Cameron Highlanders’ should in future be styled ‘The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders’.
In the Egyptian-Sudan campaign, with its memory of General Gordon and Khartoum, a Piper Stewart is remembered for playing until he fell mortally wounded.
In the South African Boer War a Victoria Cross was awarded to Sergeant Donald Fraser for saving an officer under fire.
Every regiment had cause to remember the 1914/18 war with its resulting horror and heavy casualty lists. The regimental battle honours show that The Cameron Highlanders served on all the major fronts, and acquitted themselves well in places that have sadly gone into the history of Scotland – Mons, Marne, Ypres, Loos, Somme, Passchendale, Arras. A Victoria Cross was awarded to Private Ross Tollerton when he carried a wounded officer pick-a-back out of the firing line and stayed with him, behind German lines, for three days until a British advance saved them. In all of these engagements pipers were well in evident to keep up the spirits of their comrades. They also acted as stretcher-bearers and runners, both particularly dangerous assignments in the front line. In the 1960’s there was a piper in the band, Tom McCullum, who served in the Black Watch during this war, and was rather proud of the fact that at one stage he had been reported killed in action. He had a newspaper clipping showing this. He also had many tales to tell about trying to tune his pipes in freezing cold weather. He lived into his eighties!
The awards of the Victoria Cross and the French Croix de Guerre are only given for acts of outstanding courage, considered to be above and beyond the call of duty. At the Battle of Loos in 1915 a piper of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers, Daniel Laidlaw, received these awards. Seeing his battalion suffering under a gas attack he climbed onto the parapet of the trenches and walked up and down playing ‘Blue Bonnets over the Border’. Although wounded he broke into ‘Standard on the Braes o’ Mar’. His battalion rallied and move forward out of the trenches. This incident and the awards are a measure of the value given to the sound of the pipes in difficult situations.
Once again in another world war the Camerons played their part with the 1st Battalion in action in France in 1940 being evacuated via Dunkirk. It sailed for India in 1942 and took part in the campaign in Burma. The 2nd Battalion saw service in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. In 1943 King George VI as Colonel in Chief authorised the regimental pipers to wear kilts of the Royal Stewart tartan. More places, full of memories for ‘old soldiers’, were added to the regimental flag – St Valery-en-Caux, Reichswald, Rhine, El Alamein, Akarit, Cassino, Gothic Line, Kohima, Mandalay.
Since then the regiment has served in Korea and many other trouble spots. A drummer in the band in the 1970’s, Fergus Laidlaw an ex-Sergeant of the Black Watch, served in Korea
Ever since its formation in 1793 the officers of the regiment had fought off many efforts to disband or amalgamate the regiment, but in 1961 the Camerons and theSeaforth Highlanders were amalgamated. As a new unit they served in many places in the world. Unfortunately even this amalgamation has not lasted and now all Scottish Regiments are The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
REMEMBERANCE DAY PARADE
Throughout all the turbulent places the regiment has served in, pipers have played a significant part, and many have been awarded medals and commendations for acts of bravery. Some have given their lives so their comrades could hear and be cheered by the sound of pipes playing the tunes they had grown to love and revere.
ANNEX B : Today’s Band
Constitutionally the Aims and Objects of the band are:
a. To promote the arts of piping and drumming.
b. To take part in competitions in accordance with band strength and ability.
c. To make such public appearances in furtherance of “a.” and “b” as the committee may deem fit and to invite such contribution to band funds for such appearances in accordance with the committee’s decisions thereon.
Two aspects of the Constitution have proved particularly useful. The first is that all posts of the Committee are elected annually, which gives ordinary band members the opportunity, every twelve months, to dislodge any committee member who has fallen out of favour. The second is that the constitution requires every band member to pay an annual subscription (which was originally set at a level to cover the costs of renting the band practice hall – so that if there was no other income from engagements, the band would at least continue to have a roof over its head). This has two benefits: it determines who is actually a band member and who is not (some bands anguish over this apparently simple position), and it democratises the band in that every member is of equal status regardless of whether the individual is a brand new learner or a skillful musician, or whether the member is a callow youth or an ancient edifice.
For the year 2005/6 there were 17 fee paying engagements, and one trip abroad.
The main source of income (apart from annual subscriptions), comes from engagements, which our secretary has to arrange. It is a fine art to quote a price which is both acceptable to the potential customer, and makes it worth our while turning out. There is a real financial cost in turning out the band for an engagement. The band pays “motor mileage” which barely covers the cost to members of getting to an engagement, and there is an amortisation cost of wear and tear depreciation of band equipment. There is also a cost of using up the life span of reeds, pipe-bags, and drums
The band is, of course, fully voluntary and depends on the good-will of members to turn out for a specific engagement. The members (apart from demonstrating a mild eccentricity in being members of a pipe-band and dressing up in antique scottish militaria) are normal people with families and interests and commitments outside the band. They do have a life of their own so, the Band has to limit the numbers of engagements to those that members are likely to participate in. One every weekend would be just too much.
The “bread and butter” engagement is the “Carnival Procession” through the English town or village playing every marching tune in the repertoire, followed by one or two “Arena Shows” where the band has an opportunity to move around in various formations and form up in a circle to play different tempos and rythms. It is our experience that twenty minutes is about right for an “Arena Show” – both to preserve the puff of the piper and to keep the crowd’s attention. No matter how good we are, most English audiences seem to lose interest after twenty minutes.
A relatively recent phenomenon has been the winter (end of November/ early December) Christmas Fair – involving an evening march though the town at the head of a procession to attract customer to late night shopping or to switch on Christmas lights. We have performed in Hungerford, Didcot, Witney, Maidenhead, Beaconsfield – but Hungerford is always the nicest as the setting lends itself to the occasion and there are large numbers of stallholders and locals in Victorian costume. Wokingham has a similar function, but on a Sunday afternoon.
The band currently participates in “Scottish Tattoos” in a theatre usually twice a year, at a function organised by an impressario with a “Scottish” theme. This involves playing with a brass or silver band and being the “lead” pipe band organising settings of music and “borrowing-in” bandsmen from other bands. It is a compliment to our Dress, Drill, and Deportment that we continue to be invited back. The reciprocal effect is that the band is invited to join with other bands from time to time. The four downsides to a “Tattoo” are: the work involved in working out and practicing the physical moves onto and off the stage or auditorium; learning the occasional new tune, the name of which happens to fit the scenario of the theme, but otherwise is quite irrelevant and will never be played again; persuading the “imported” pipers and drummers to play “your” setting of a common tune; and spending a whole day of your life rehearsing with the other acts in a theatre miles away from home. The upsides are; the “buzz” from playing in front of a knowledgable theatre audience; the general raising of the standard of playing of the whole band for the performance; the pride and satisfaction at being asked back next year; the sheer delight at the skill and exuberance of young “ Irish Dancers” both at rehearsal and in their glittering costumes.
The band has been fortunate to have been involved in a number of overseas trips. The band is on the books of an International Impressario who makes his living organising the participation of groups in large festivals ( such as: Nice Mardi Gras Procession; International Balloon Festival at Metz; Figueres International Music Festival). Is has been our practice not to charge a fee for our appearance, but we expect not to pay anything at all towards the cost of the trip. We have to submit a budgetary estimate of travel costs which are refunded to us and we expect to be accommodated, and fed and watered. The International Impressario “offers” the organiser the opportunity to select the groups (from such as Yugoslavian World Champion Drum Majorettes, Russian Military Bands, Dutch stilt-walking fighting “ostriches”, Italian Banner –tossing troubadors etc.) and if we are lucky we are selected and off we go.
From time to time the band is asked to participate in “Charity events”, which usually means that the organiser wishes us to perform at their event, free, gratis and for nothing. The band does perform sometimes for nothing, but these are strictly limited and exceptional events. There is a school of thought that thinks the band should turn out when requested as this would not only be beneficial to the charity but would also enhace our exposure to a wider audience. There is another school of thought (that currently holds sway) that there is a financial cost to the band in turning out for an engagement – so it would actually be costing the band to turn out for nothing; such a “freebie” would also cut into the good-will of members, and we do not think it would be fair to give our services to a specific fund-raising event for nothing, out of consideration to another well-deserving fund-raising event that is prepared to pay for our services.
Financial aspects of the Band today
Apart from overhead costs (rent, insurance, subscriptions to RSPBA) and travel expenses, the main costs fall to providing a Uniform. This costs approximately £1740 per member, and the current replacement values of all Band kit (including drums) is about £57000. Replacing kit over a 20 year period would therefore take about £3000 each and every year.
In 2006-7 there were 44 nominal members of which 17 are playing pipers, 8 drummers and a Drum Major. The remainder are learners.
Running costs of a piper
Conventionally, a piper owns his pipes (valued at between £700 and £2000) and has to maintain the bag (about £100 for a “hightech” bag), and drone reeds (between £40 to £90 for a set of “hightech” reeds). The bag and drones have a variable life, but one would expect to replace them between two and five years. The band provides a chanter (one of a set of identical chanters “matched” for the band) and the reed for the chanter, and a uniform cover and cords.
How to be a Pipe Major
In his report at the AGM of 2006 Ron Paterson, Pipe Major, wrote, ‘This band runs smoothly and that is due, in no small part, to the enthusiasm, commitment and good nature of your office bearers, each of whom knows his role and carries it out in the interest of the band and its members – this is a happy, well-founded band and long may it continue as we head into our 50th year.”
The following are his thoughts on the problems of being a pipe-major.
“In many bands, the Pipe Major is God-like in his power, running the band like a dictator. I am happy to say that in the Reading Scottish, the responsibilities are divided amongst the office bearers by our constitution, so the Pipe Major does not make all the decisions. That doesn’t stop the members thinking that the Pipe Major knows everything, and is the fount of all knowledge.
It is a difficult, and sometimes impossible, job keeping everyone happy, trying to get a balance between variety in the repertoire, improving the standards, integrating novice players, concentrating on competition while focusing on forthcoming engagements. There are times when I just cannot balance all the needs, and I upset some people, but there is often just not enough time. If the band had a smaller repertoire, it would make it easier to integrate new players, and improve the playing of those few tunes, but would we entertain our paying customers as much? Could we take on the ever-growing variety of challenges that we (amazingly at times) rise to? A small repertoire would also bore many of the members by its sheer repetitiveness.
Let’s take a look at a typical Monday night practice…….. I usually turn up about ten to seven to get my pipes warmed up, and give me a good chance to listen to them on my own, as I will gradually try to set the pitch of all of the pipes to mine, so if mine are wrong, it is not going to be a very good sound. Gradually people turn up and disappear to all corners of the church buildings to try to find a lonely space where they can warm up and tune their drones. From about 7.30 little groups start to form, the earlier ones join me in the hall and I start setting chanters and drones, others play together in the vestibule or by the back door. By 7.50, most of the band has warmed up and we play a couple of sets before practice officially starts at 8pm.
At 8, we get the tables out and all of the band, minus the tutor-classes, gather round the table with our practice chanters. I would dearly love to have all of the band present, because it is round the table that I have my only real chance to get people to understand what I want from a particular tune. The abilities round the table vary significantly, but this is not a forum for individual tuition, it is about trying to blend people of different playing abilities into a coherent style. I try to simplify the gracings as much as possible, without destroying the character of the tune, so that every member of the band is capable of creating the sound and texture to the music that I want. Even here, the Pipe Major’s task is not without controversy, as allowing people to play without the full gracings is anathema to some people. I take a pragmatic view that the enjoyment for our customers is in hearing a well-phrased, rich and tonal sound, which would be destroyed by people trying to fit in gracings that destroy their rhythm.
My demands from people around the table are different. I am hard on people who ‘rush’ their notes, the most common problem is a levelling out of note values, caused by coming too quickly off of the long notes and then playing the short notes for too long to get back in synch. I try to stretch the players that I think can do more, or be more precise.
After tea we get our pipes out and the drummers join us after I have tuned the sets I did not hear before chanter practice. It is very difficult getting started as people linger over tea and chats and disappear to all corners, but gradually I get a full band together. What I choose to practice is determined largely by what engagements are approaching, but the time for working on new sets, or brushing up less frequently used sets, is actually quite short, as each of our three classes for learners, have pupils who have reached the stage where some exposure to the band, and playing with the band, is beneficial to their development, so we spend quite a bit of time playing the staple sets. This does not benefit the band greatly in the short term, but the potential rewards in bringing on new players, who will fit comfortably into the band, are enormous. It always results in it taking longer than I would like for us to become comfortable with new sets or re-organised sets. I have found that the easiest way to get new sets in, is to learn them round the table, practice on the pipes for a few weeks, then let them lie fallow for a year or so before dusting them off again. I don’t know why, but after another couple of sessions round the table, the set that I thought we would never get right, is playing well!
The great problem with pipe bands is that you must memorise each and every tune you play, and you must be comfortable with the way the tunes are organised into sets. The only way to achieve this comfort is repetition, and with less than an hour each week, and probably more than half our weeks gone because we are focusing on a particular engagement or competition, there is very little time for repetition.
Now if all of that sounds very easy and straightforward, think again. Remember I said that the Pipe Major is the fount of all knowledge? While I am trying to get all this done, I have people who want new reeds, and they have to be trimmed and set up to the right strength for their blowing comfort. New people arrive that I have to talk to and decide what to do with them. I am usually fretting about whether we can get enough people together to go to Spain, or how I am going to arrange transport to the airport. People want to know where we are meeting for the Newbury carnival, or what tunes we are going to play, or how big the arena is. I get requests to come and hear learners play, or find a substitute teacher as someone is going to be off next week. I have discussions about kitting people out and little bits of committee business come up and have to be done. I get updates on progress for the various things we are organising during our anniversary year. I get cries for help from people whose pipes don’t seem to be behaving, or whose drones are double toning. People want to know which plastic drones I would buy. People are telling me that they are taking holidays and won’t be along for a while, or work commitments are limiting their time. I try to find ways to practice for quartets without impinging on the practice time for everyone else. I go round trying to get volunteers for tasks or find someone to play at a wedding. In short I never seem to get done, what I hope to achieve, but somehow we keep moving on and delighting our audiences, and having fun ourselves.
The underlying threads to my tenure as Pipe Major, are that we will stretch ourselves, we will tackle new things, we will strive to improve, and we will enjoy ourselves. I will do what I can to juggle the many demands, so that the band improves, but still try to build for the future. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a thankless task – I get great pride when I hear the band perform well, and I am delighted to have the problems of building and integrating learners into the band, and every so often someone tells you that you are doing a good job and that can give you a new lease of life.”
Royal Scottish Pipe Band association
The Band has regularly attended meetings of the RSPBA London and South East of England Branch and has entered their competitions. Several members have passed their examinations in Piping and Drumming.
The Branch supported the Reading Band in staging the Reading Highland Gathering on 24th June 2007 in Prospect Park Reading, attracting a fair number of Bands on a wet day.
Appendix 1: Members List – past and present
|A||Bernie Aitken. Eddie Almond. Roy Anderson. Coreyanne Armstrong.|
|B||Emily Baker. Michael Barnes. Alan Barrie. Malcom Bauchlin. Bob Beaton. Damian Bell. James Bell. Sandy Blyth. Charlie Bonella. Geoff Booth. T Brack. Philip Bryant. Brian Bullen. Jeff Byrne.|
|C||Stuart Cameron. Ian Campbell. Tom Campbell. Ron Chandler. Mark Chessman. Ian Clarke. Bob Clifford. Graham Cochran. Mike Connor. Ken Coote. Bill Copland. Lesley Copland. Hayley Cox. Corrinne Crane. Tony Crane.|
|D||Denis Davis. Chris Dech. John Dick. W Douglas. George Duncan.|
|E||Alastair Eaton. Debbie Eaton. Nicola Eaton. Colin Eggbert. Neil Essslemont. Jimmy Ewing. Roddie Ewing.|
|F||John Farr. Linda Finch. David Finlayson. Mark Forsyth. David Fortescue. Bob Fraser. M. French.|
|G||Rhona Gardener. Miles Gardiner. Andy Gillan. Alan Gillanders. Neil Gillanders. Neil Graham. John Green. Alistair Groves. Frank Groves. Ian Groves. Ian Gunn.|
|H||David Hanna. Mick Harding. Philip Harris. Vikta Harvey. David Haskins. Alexander Hay. Dave Henson. M Holloway. Kirsty Hopgood. Daniel Hosie. Gregor Hosie. Tony Howlett-Bolton. S Hurst.|
|J||Adrian Jackson. Verity Jackson. Alan James. John Jamieson. Arthur Johnston. Gregor Johnston. Ian Johnston. Lee Jordan.|
|K||Carolyne Kauder. Dave Kauder. Hugh King. Ian King. M King. Steven Kinghorn.|
|L||Fergus Laidlaw. Robert Leader. Tim Leadbetter. Jim Leiper. Paul Leishman. Tanya Lewis. John Liddel. Clive Lidiyard. Terry Lodge. Henry Loud. George Lovering. John Lumsden. Peter Lutrelle.|
|M||Chris Mace. Michael Mackay. Linda MacDonald. Colin Malam. David Mann. Brian Mansfield. Boyd Matthews. Ian Matyear. Tom McAllum. Alison McBeth. Malcolm McBride. Bernadette McCole. Tom McCormack. Alan McDonald. Gerry McDonald. Jimmy McGinn. Lawrence McGowan. Don McLean. Alexander McLeod. Colin McMillan. Bill McNab. Alec McPherson. W Menzies. Peter Mile. Brian Millar. Reverend John Miller. Alec Mitchel. Kevin Monahan. Tom Moncur. Tony Mortimer. Scott Morton. Rory Mudie|
|O||Alistair Orr. Tom Orr. Karen Osman.|
|P||Ron Paterson. Bill Pomphrey. Neil Palmer. Reverand Alan Porter. Andy Priest.|
|R||Bosko Radusin. Brendon Rea. Sam Reardon. Jimmy Reid. Michael Rennie. Bob Robertson. Colin Robertson. Paul Robertson. Ian Ross.|
|S||Mario Scinto. Colleen Scott. Dennis Shaw. John Shaw. Charlie Sim. Bill Simpson. Bernard Sims. Helen Sims. Andrew Smith. David Smith. Leonie Smith (now Beltzer). Richard Smith. Stella Smith (now Hazell). Vivienne Smith (now Roberts). Scott Spense. David Spenser. D Stamp. Alan Stancliffe. Michael Stephenson. Shirley Stoddart. R Sturrock. Tina Sullivan.|
|T||Colin Taylor. Chris Tipler. Sam Todd. Ian Turner.|
|V||Alan Vaughan. Kat Vaughan.|
|W||Tina Walford. Sandy Walker. Graham Ward. Jeff Ward. Laurie Ward. David Watson. Fiona Watson. Moira Watson. Peter Whyte. Tom Wilkinson. Harry Wray. John Wright. Sam Wright. Gordon Wylie.|
|Y||Keith Youldon. Andy Young|
Appendix 2: Roll of PM; DM; DSgt
|Roll of Pipe Majors||Pipe Sergeants||Drum Majors|
Ian King *
Sandy Walker (2nd Time)
* Pipe Major Ian King was also PM to the London Scottish TA. He was also official personal piper to Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother
Roll of Leading Drummers
Tom Wilkinson (2nd time)
Adrian Jackson (2nd time)
Gregor Hosie (acting)
It has proved difficult to recover the roll of leading drummers as the leading drummer was not elected to the committee until the AGM of 1984
Appendix 3: UK Venues
|A||Abingdon. Albert Hall. Aldershot. Alton. Andover. Ascot. Aylesbury|
|B||Badshot Lea. Basingstoke. Beaconsfield. Beaconsfield. Bicester. Birmingham. Borden. Bournemouth. Bracknell. Bradfield. Brands Hatch. Bridport. Bristol|
|C||Camberly. Caversham. Chalgrove. Chesham. Chessington. Cholsey. Colchester. Coventry. Crowthorne|
|F||Farnborough. Farnham. Ferneham. Flackwell Heath. Fleet|
|H||Hailsham. Hale. Harpsden. Hartley Witney. Headley. Henley. High Wycombe. Highclere. Hillingdon. Hungerford. Hurst|
|L||Lambourn. Leyton. Liphook. Liss. Littlewick Green. London|
|N||Newbury. Newport. Nottingham|
|O||O2 Arena. Old Basing. Olympic Stadium. Oxford|
|P||Pamber Heath. Pangbourne. Peppard. Pirbright. Plymouth. Portsmouth|
|R||Radley. Reading. Richmond. Rogerstone, Monmouth. Ruslip|
|S||Salisbury. Sandhurst. Shepperton. Sherfield-on-Loddon. Shiplake. Stoke Row. Stratfield Saye. Streatley. Sulhampstead. Sunningdale. Swallowfield|
|T||Tadley. Telford. Theale. Tongham. Tower of London. Trafalgar Square|
|W||Wallingford. West llsley. Wheathampstead. White Waltham. Windsor. Wokingham. Woodley|
Salisbury Tattoo 2006
Salisbury Tattoo 2007
Appendix 4: Events & Tours
Albert Hall, London
The following are just some of the places that Reading Scottish have played on tour over the last 20 years.
|22/10/1989||Albert Hall, London|
|11/11/1989||Lord Mayor’s Show, London|
|13/7/1991||RAMC Passing Out Parade. Keogh Barracks, Aldershot|
|15/5/1991||Inauguration of Mayor of Basingstoke|
|27/7/1991||Special Olympics, Reading|
|13/9/1991||Battle of Britain Reception, RAF Benson|
|8/5/1995||VE Day Celebrations, Bracknell|
|20/8/1995||Edinburgh - Massed Pipes & Drums of the World (largest band ever, in excess of 8,500)|
|13/8/1995||VJ Day Royal British Legion Service, Henley-on-Thames|
|Jan 2003||South of France|
|21/6/2003||Aborfield Army Training Camp|
|7/5/2004||Aid of Helicopter Air Ambulance, Reading Town Hall|
|Jan 2005||Northern Spain|
|2007-13||Frequent trips to France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland, including Nice, Menton, Niederbronn-Les-Bains, Burg, Bilbao, Verona, Valreas, Tour, St Avertin, Vallauris and Zug.|
|2012||London Olympic Games and O2 Arena|
|2013||Sibiu and Alba Iulia, Romania|