Well over 20,000 people flocked to Forres’ Grant Park on Saturday to take in the second year of their hosting the European Pipe Band Championships.
The entire town was buzzing as competing bands from as far afield as Australia and the United States competed for honours – but it was a Scottish band that took the Grade 1 title, the Inveraray and District band under the leadership of Pipe Major Stuart Liddell.
Runners up in the top title were the Scottish Power Pipe Band while the grade-one drumming title went over the Irish sea to St Laurence O’Toole from Ireland.
Ian Widdowson is chairman of Forres Events, the voluntary group set up to run the championships over their three-year franchise in Moray. He said he and everyone concerned were “delighted” that despite early signs of rain the sun shone once again for most of the day.
He said: “Despite a bit of drizzle at the start we think our numbers were up to our target of 20,000 – and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves enormously.
“The playing was magnificent and it was a particularly nice touch and extremely moving to have the grade-one bands play Flower of Scotland in tribute to the late Roy Williamson of the Corries who wrote the tune and lived just opposite the park in Forres.
“The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association and the competitors were delighted with the organisation of the event. I wish to offer a thank you for the support of all volunteers, sponsors, competitors and stall holders – and everyone who was working on the day or just out and about enjoying it.”
The early rain had caused the dancing competition to be moved into the nearby Applegrove primary school, something that organiser Christine Lacey MBE regretted. She said: “It is a pity that the weather was not better at the start but it was important for the smaller children to keep them warm and dry.
“It is a shame that the crowd’s did not get to see them – but we did what we had to do and the competition went well.”
For Police and Stewards controlling the 20,000 visitors it was a stress-free day, with Police Inspector Paul McCruden saying: “It was a fantastic day for Forres – everybody seemed to have a good time and the day was enjoyed by all.”
There was some local success in the championships with the 2622 (Highland) Squadron Pipe Band from RAF Lossiemouth winning the Grade 4A Band title and Grade 4A Drumming title.