AN AWARD-winning pipe band had to abandon rehearsals on the eve of one of their biggest competitions after a complaint to police about the noise.
Celebrated Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band – which has 43 playing members and boasts a proud history spanning more than a century – were practising for the prestigious Scottish championships when they were approached by officers.
They were told to stop playing and informed that failure to do so would result in their equipment being removed from them as they rehearsed in the grounds of Shotts health centre.
Pipe Major Ryan Canning, 36, said: “Before competitions we practise as much as we can. Preparation is key to doing well in a final and we were surprised when the police arrived out of the blue one evening to tell us we couldn’t continue playing.
“The officers handled the situation professionally, but told us they had to follow up and act on the complaint.”
The Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia Pipe Band is one of the most successful and celebrated pipe bands in history and a 15-time winner of the World Pipe Band Championships.
Mr Canning added: “Our own hall needs refurbished. It’s damp and not the best place to practise before a competition.
“As we compete outside, we like to rehearse outside when we can.
“We tend not to practise in the grounds of our hall as it’s surrounded by houses.
“We’ve been using the health centre for years as it’s relatively secluded. We’ve never had any complaints before. It came as a complete shock that someone was annoyed at us for rehearsing there. The reception and feedback we receive from residents is great.
“Passers-by stop and listen to us play and people often watch from their windows.”
The day after their brush with the law, the band finished sixth in the competition, which was held in Dumbarton on 26 July.
More than 140 bands competed for the title of Scottish Pipe Band Champions.
Mr Canning said: “Having our last rehearsal before competition disrupted definitely added extra stress. I am responsible for tuning and I usually do this the night before, but was not able to because of the upheaval. The amount of work we had to put in on the day was almost doubled.”
Since their encounter with police, the band has been preparing for this weekend’s world championships exclusively indoors.
The World Pipe Band Championships kick off tomorrow in Glasgow and will welcome 50,000 spectators and 8,000 performers from 150 nations.
A police spokesman said: “On 25 July, we received a complaint about excessive noise being caused by the Shotts pipe band who were practising at an outdoor location in a built-up area.
“Officers subsequently attended and, after speaking to members of the band, it was agreed that they would remove themselves to a more remote location to avoid any further complaints.”