Saturday 16th June
Whiteford Music Festival – Stoke Climsland


Pipers: Nigel, Alex, Rob, Tony, Stuart, Ian, Tom, Miranda, Keith G, David, Chris, Keith N.

Drummers: Bass –  Keith,  Tenor – Don, Amber,  Snare – James, Geoff

Undeterred by the wind and rain there was a splendid turnout of 12 Pipers and 5 Drummers at the Music Festival on Saturday evening. More than a few people were of the opinion the Proms would be cancelled. As the Author had to miss this very special occasion some band members were encouraged to talk about their impressions of the evening’s event.

In spite of the cold there was a determined indomitable spirit in the organisers that the Celebrations would go ahead whatever the elements threw at them, barring an electrical failure. 

A committee member said they were expecting around 700 people which would be a good sound turnout because of the weather conditions. As in previous years the audience were invited to bring food and drink, chairs, tables, rugs and lanterns. Again Shelter Box was represented and the Stoke Climsland Scout Group was there to raise money with their wheelbarrow service – taking people’s picnic tables, chairs and food to their required places. 

It was not a good start for two of the band members on their arrival at the grounds at 3.45. A committee member who was supposed to position his car across the entrance to a very muddy field to show the public it was not a good place to park had instead gone home for his tea. This resulted in their car becoming deeply stuck in the mud requiring a tractor to haul it out. 

After rehearsals around 5pm it rained heavily and the Band retired to partake of welcome refreshments.  There were to be three performances with the first performance after the interval around 9.15pm. It was to be shirt sleeves and Glengarries but in the second and third appearances members wore jackets and feather bonnets. 

It was still raining as the gate was opened after 6 pm and the audience arrived. At this stage they looked quite despondent as they set about putting up their chairs and tables but happily the rain stopped just after 6.30. A good British Bulldog spirit abounded throughout as Union Jacks were much in evidence, as were boaters and striped blazers. As one of the pipers and his wife strolled around the ground looking at the laden tables he spotted a 3 tier cardboard cake-stand on a table which was full of fancy cakes – he thought it was all ‘a little bit of England’.

The BBC Radio Light Orchestra opened the evening with the Radetsky March. The Conductor explained he liked to ensure the programme was varied. He then went on to say who the performers were – The Loveny Male Voice Choir and the Soloist Helen Sheppard who sang American Stage Show songs. On entering the last part of her show, when the orchestra played her in on the wrong key she turned and said “I would love to continue but I wouldn’t be able to reach the top notes”. At this there was riotous laughter from the audience!

The first march on to the tune of Green Hills was down the field towards the steps where the Musical Director then played as solo Mac an Irish as the Band descended the steps. With their appearance the audience with one accord stood and clapped to the beat of the music. Two new tunes were played on this occasion one of which was Last of the Great Whales. The Band continued down to form a semi-circle in front of the stage. There was rapturous applause when the Band played Highland Cathedral with the Orchestra.  Other tunes played were Rowan Tree, Wings, Bonny Galloway, Waters of Kylesku, Skye Boat Song, and Morag of Dunvegan. The Band stood to attention for the first playing of Steamboat then marched off at the start of the repeat of Steamboat. Then it was back to base camp for a mad scrabble into No 1s for their second appearance where a cheerful log fire burned. 

The melee of getting changed was greatly enhanced by the assistance given in getting plaids correctly fitted – everyone helping one another. It was noted that the youngest member of the Band looked resplendent in her home made kilt and lace Jabot – all made by her granddad. 

Several bottles of wine and a tray of glasses magically appeared and were distributed round the group. Just the thing for such a cold chilly evening!

To the tune of Scotland the Brave the Band marched on to even louder applause from the revelling crowds.  Some of the tunes played were Marie’s Wedding and Highland Cathedral with a solo  Piper playing Towerhill Dreams. After another successful performance the Band marched of to Na awa tae bide awa.

The cold had settled in across the Auditorium and blankets and coverings were in evidence throughout. It was the Finale and the audience were in full throes of their enjoyment, and flags were waving madly as they joined in and sang with some of the songs. Rule Britannia, Pomp and Circumstance and Land of Hope and Glory were played by the Orchestra and a wonderful display of fireworks lit darkened skies.

The Band was now positioned in front of the stage facing the audience for Auld Lang Syne. The order was given to play Amazing Grace with the Orchestra and concluded with the Musical Director playing solo as he was spotlighted high on a scaffolding platform to the right of the stage. As he finished the spotlight went off leaving the arena in complete darkness and soon a lone voice could be heard from the stage “Can we have some lights please?”  

All the members of the band agreed that the success of the evening could be attributed to the hard work of the Musical Director.

And a final word from my interviewees – “Another great event despite the elements and one that will not be forgotten.”