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Issue 74 - Its piping hot

Scotland Magazine Issue 74
April 2014

 

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Its piping hot

How Forres is going to resound to the pipes

On the last Saturday in June, the town of Forres on the Moray Firth will resonate almost continuously to the sound of the bagpipes. This is not some marathon forlorn lament for a forgotten past but the very contemporary, heart-warming sound of over 120 of the top pipe bands in the world competing at the European Pipe Band Championships, sponsored by Benromach Speyside Single Malt Whisky and held in the town’s splendid Grant Park.

First held in June 2013, Piping Hot Forres, attracted around 17,000 spectators – the largest single day event in Moray.

Seeing the thousands of pipers and drummers, all in their colourful tartans – the majority from Scotland and Northern Ireland but others from Ireland, Europe and as far afield as Oman and Australia, is a spectacular sight. But the sound, especially when all of the bands play together in the finale, cannot fail to stir the emotions.

In 2013, the Belfast band Field Marshal Montgomery won the title of European Champions in the top grade, Grade 1; Aberdeenshire’s Buchan Peterson band won Grade 2; Edinburgh bands City of Edinburgh and Stockbridge won grades 3A and 3B, and Newtongrange , 4A. To big cheers from the home crowd, the Moray band Elgin and District won their 4B grade, and George Watson’s College Band, also from Edinburgh, won the Juvenile and Novice Juvenile Grade. The top Drum Majors were Brian Wilson, Lomond & Clyde Pipe Band, Juvenile: Jason Price, Marlacoo & District, Armagh Junior and Zoe McDowell, of the Aughintober Pipe Band, Co Tyrone.

Piping Hot Forres is a community event organised by Forres Events Ltd, which is made up of six members of the Forres business community.

Last year large numbers of the local community volunteered to put up posters, barriers and sponsor banners around the four arenas, man the gates and pick up the litter – a vital, but thankless task. Forres in Bloom, through Moray Council, planted the flowerbeds in piping hot colours; a Piping Hot tartan was designed and woven into kilts; local bakers produced Piping Hot cupcakes and Piping Hot Forres pies; and Mieles followed that with a Piping Hot chilli ice cream.

A local cookery school hosted the world tattie scone championship where the local MP, Angus Robertson cooked a ‘Forres in Blue’ tattie scone. A whole pipe band was knitted by charity volunteer Betty Mackay, who raffled two of her creations for the championships and sold the others in aid of the Highland Hospice – she sold out within days.

David Urquhart of Forres Events Ltd said, “It is a fantastic day out – even those who don’t much like pipe bands find it a spectacular event.”

The vast space of Grant Park readily absorbes the numbers and the natural amphitheatre amply soaks up the sound of four bands playing simultaneously in four arenas. In addition there are plenty of quality stalls with everything from top brands ranging from Dean’s shortbread and Johnstons of Elgin to candy floss – fortunately far enough apart to avoid sticky fingers on the cashmere!

In 2013, more than 100 local businesses rallied to the call for funding, both from the public sector such as Moray Council and Highland and Islands Enterprise, and private sector sponsorship, which included Moray Chamber of Commerce.

This year's Piping Hot Forres is also funded by Event Scotland, and the Community Food Fund, and forms part of Scotland’s Year of Homecoming 2014 – a year-long programme of events taking place alongside the Commonwealth Games, 23 July – 3 August, in Glasgow, and the Ryder Cup, 23–28 September at Gleneagles.

Piping Hot Forres takes place on Saturday 28 June 2014.
Visit: www.pipinghotforres.com.