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    23/08/2017

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The Best Kept Secret

SNP St Andrews Night Awards Dinner

Double Tree by Hilton, Glasgow

The cat is finally out of the bag and we can all stop creeping about. The band were honoured to be invited to be the surprise guests at the SNP Independence  Magazine Awards dinner. A flash mob in a big ballroom, without anybody knowing we were there .

Our biggest disappointment was that we were limited to numbers and couldnt take the whole band with us, so we had to pick from those ready willing and able to commit to a friday afternoon in Glasgow. The places went to those who had attended most events over the year (marches and practices) and who could get time off work. Although we missed those we couldnt take we had a backing video running on the huge screens all around the venue with their faces smiling down on us. The edge was slightly taken off our excitement (but only slightly) by the news that our First Minister had had to change her plans and was in Sheffield for a Question Time Leaders special so wouldnt be watching the performance .

All making our own way to the venue we had from 2 – 4 to rehearse, work out which doors to use, where to stand etc The nerves were starting to show and I’m not sure the staff trying to set up the tables fully appreciated our musical input .

At 4pm we all made the dash to our hotel in Hamilton to get ready (not easy for those of us who dont know Glasgow, dont usually drive in cities and not used to friday teatime traffic)

After a very quick shower and change we were back in hotel reception within the hour, blue bonnets donned and aboard a bus back into town.

Its not the easiest thing to get a pipe band from a bus and through the entrance lobby of a very busy hotel unseen, but we did it and then hid in the green room till show time. Warming up was difficult – pipes are remarkably loud when you dont want anybody passing to hear them. As our time slot drew near our 2 drummers opening our set were smuggled through the kitchen to be able to appear unnoticed in the ballroom., whilst the rest of the band formed up in the lobby.

Goosebumps … when that band stuck up, the doors opened and they marched in playing “Blue Bonnets”  .. a very emotional moment for us all

A flawless performance despite the nerves .

All the guests at the dinner stopped what they were doing to sing along to Flower of Scotland  (I’m smiling just remembering it),and clap along to Killiecrankie.

The 10 minute slot passed in a heartbeat, and just like that it was over and the band were back out in the foyer smiling for the cameras.

With the “work” of the evening over, the band got the very rare chance to relax together, have dinner and and just enjoy each others company. Some of our younger members took the chance to get photos with the better known faces in the room (huge thanks to them for being so kind and generous with their time and smiling for our cameras) – a few even tried on the Blue Bonnets

After a fabulous time, like Cinderella around midnight it was time to board our bus for our hotel. The icing on the cake. As we were leaving, wandering through reception our First Minister arrived … much excitement and the perfect end to the night and another chance to get the treasured selfies.

The journey back to Hamilton was much rowdier than the outward trip … much laughing, singing and back slapping went on.

Nobody wanted the night to end, so the hotel bar became home for an hour or 3. Despite having been at a luxury dinner, pizzas were ordered, friendships were cemented and memories were made.

What an incredible way to round off our first full year Marching on the Road to Independence.

You can see the gallery of photos at https://saoralbapd.scot/projects/snp-st-andrews-night-awards-dinner/

The National Rally

George Square Glasgow

2nd November 2019

 

 

 

The band were delighted to be asked to open the National Rally where our First Minister was addressing the Yes family for the first time.

 

 

The short notice made it difficult to impossible for some of the band to attend , work, travel problems and other long standing arrangements stopped some players getting there, and needless to say they were gutted. However we did manage to get a dozen pipers, 5 drummers, 10 band assistants and a dog to the square in time.

 

The enormity of the occasion wasn’t lost on any of the band – who are not immune to cataloging their own personal Independence journies with a few selfies … JR caught in the act here

 

 

 

Although at face value things may have appeared to run like clockwork, behind the scenes plenty was going wrong !

The day started badly when the van carrying the bands drums broke down in Stirling (sadly it now needs a new engine). So lots of scrambling about was needed to rescue the drum corp who were having a tough enough day with an unusual bass-less line up – they are good but less than impressive without actual drums.

 

 

The pressure got too much for our only tenor drummer who had to be forceably removed from the pub !

 

 

 

 

 

Standing facing a huge bank of cameras was daunting enough for the band, but add in the huge expectant crowd and the nerves started to show. The only band member who cracked under the pressure was Sheldon, who disgraced himself despite being walked for hours in the morning.

Thanks to our long suffering band assistants the evidence was quickly removed and the band played on !

 

 

The band were delighted to help out a lovely gentlemen who just wanted a photo…. a very special photo. He had a Lion Rampant flag made in 1898 which it was an honour for the band to pose with.

Sadly in the excitement nobody got the gentleman’s name so if anybody knows him please let us know!

 

 

 

After all the speakers had left the band gave a wee impromptu recital in the middle of the square …. well some of them did. However they couldnt find the support team to get into the vehicle where the kit was being stored .

 

 

 

Some teamwork was required –  one drum between 2 !

 

 

 

It goes without saying that it was a fabulous day, and will live in our memories for a very long time. However some thank yous are very much required.

Firstly thanks to The National for giving us the opportunity to play at such an historic event.

Thanks to Pauline for jumping in her car and bringing the drums – it would have been a very different day without them !

Yes Ross Sutherland once again showed incredible generosity transporting 6 of the band from the far north on their Yes bus – we couldnt get to as many events without your help and support

The Yes Stones Cairn for their very generous donation

And of course the Yes family in the crowd who always make us feel so welcome and appreciated .

You can browse through the photo gallery of the event at https://saoralbapd.scot/projects/the-national-rally/

The Big One

AUOB March Edinburgh – 5th October 2019

Well that was a day that will go down in the history books!  Over 200,000 people took to the streets of our capital city to show that there is indeed an appetite for Scottish Independence.

Old folk, youngsters, less mobile folk , kids, dogs, families  – you name it and they were there. And we’re very proud to say so were we.

We put out our biggest band to date – 23 pipers and 16 drummers all proudly wearing their blue bonnets and leading the march through the streets.

What you may not have noticed in the excitement is that we also had 23 none playing members, 3 kids and a dog on the team  all doing their own  special job to make sure everything ran smoothly. Support vehicle drivers, stewards, the dream team on the stall, etc without whom it wouldnt be possible.

 

Those who were able to get to Edinburgh early gathered at the Meadows and travelled together on a band bus to Holyrood for the start. Those who couldnt make it that early met them at the start – lets face it even in a crowd that big they are not that difficult to find !

 

We did something which was very special for some of us. In a break with Pipe band tradition, we put all our lady pipers in the front rank for the march (although some of you could be forgiven  for not noticing as they chose to wear fake beards). It may not seem like a big deal but it meant a lot to some of our female members.

 

 

Words cant really describe the day adequately – the noise, the people, the buzz of excitement, the rain, the hope ….

But as always we have a huge photographic record of our day that you can browse in our Gallery at https://saoralbapd.scot/projects/the-big-one/

Our On Line shop is now Open

Our new improved on-line shop is now open. The perfect place for you to buy your Indy merchandise and do all your Christmas Shopping !

Earlier  in the year we dipped our toe in the water with a small test version of an online shop. We learned all the lessons we needed to set up a more efficient, more professional better version.  Our team have worked tirelessly at all the marches running our real world stall and have fed back all your comments, requests and questions, so we can tailor our offer.

Along with a range of unique Band logo branded merchandise, we will be stocking Yes and Aye merchandise , and a range of gifts.  Where else can you get a Yes fag, a dog bandana, a baby bib and a hip flask all in one visit to the keyboard.

 

Whilst we have kept our prices as low as possible to give you real value for money, all profits will go towards band funds and help keep us marching on the road to Independence.

 

As our shop is staffed entirely by volunteers we ask for your understanding – we can not compete with Amazon and Ebay and offer next day delivery ! All orders of stock items are picked and packed as they come in, but we only have one post run a week. All orders will be posted on a Tuesday. A few items that are made to order will give you an idea of the delivery time in the listing.

We will be adding new products every week, so keep popping back to have a look whats just arrived !

 

Introducing Sheldon

Meet our fabulous Mascot

If you’ve ever been on an Independence march, attended a rally, watched a live stream or looked at the pictures of any Indy event on line the chances are you recognise Sheldon!

 

 

This big beautiful proud Indydug was born in Edinburgh on 5th June 2015 – with a Scottish mum and German dad he’s typical of the wonderful mix that makes our country so special.

 

 

 

As soon as he had all his jabs (at about 12 week old) Sheldon attended his first Highland Show. That was the first time he’s heard the skirl of the pipes. From then on, whenever he heard them on the TV at home he would sit up and watch. Perfect puppy training to become the mascot of Saor Alba Pipes and Drums .

 

 

 

He had a busy early couple of years. At 6 months old he qualified for Crufts and proudly represented Scotland in the show ring.

Then at a year old he was introduced to the limelight appearing in series 7 of the popular TV series Still Game.

He’s even sired a litter of 12 beautiful puppies

Not surprisingly his first outfit was a flag !

 

 

 

 

Since then he has been busy helping his lovely mum Jane campaign for Scottish Independence. Being an Indydug he’s attended marches and rallies. He’s been on Freedom Convoys and camps. He’s been seen at commemorations and demonstrations and made friends everywhere he went. His photo has appeared in The National.  People are drawn to this charismatic dog and he loves the attention.

 

 

 

Although he’s kept very busy being an Indydug, off duty he’s still just a big puppy at heart and loves playing on beaches, in parks and meeting people

 

 

 

 

 

We’re very proud to announce that he has agreed to become the band’s mascot and whenever possible he will be front and centre leading us as we keep marching on the road to independence.

 

 

 

Check out all his pictures in our photo  gallery https://saoralbapd.scot/projects/sheldon/

Marching from strength to strength

Its been a very busy summer for the band.

They have been very visual leading the marches in Stornaway, Glasgow, Galasheilds, Oban, Ayr, Aberdeen, Dunfermline, and Perth with Edinburgh still to come,  but behind the scenes even more has been going on.

Its been a summer of additions for us.

We’ve added some fabulous new pipers and drummers. Not all our new players have made their debut yet so look out for new faces in Edinburgh.

 

This is the lovely Elaine from Aberdeenshire who had her first outing with the band in Ayr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Alan who joined us for the first time in Perth -hopefully we’ll get his uniform to him before his next event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eoghann made his debut in Ayr and hasnt missed a band event since !

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amy joined us for the first time in Dunfermline

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gordon was our other first timer in Dunfermline.

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve been joined by some keen and hardworking new band assistants (they deserve a post of their own, because without them we wouldnt be able to put a band out on the streets) so watch this space for that one !

 

We’ve had our drums decorated with our logo. We’ve had our stall wrecked by high winds in Dunfermline.

 

 

 

And we’ve been delighted to add the lovely Sheldon as the band mascot.

Want to earn your own Blue Bonnet ?

Want to earn your own Blue Bonnet ?

We currently have a few spaces for pipers, snare drummers and tenor drummers to join the band.

What was once a group of strangers with a shared dream is now a family. Friends have been made for life. But we can still grow and are ready to welcome new members into the band.

Frequently asked questions

1. Is there an age limit to join the band ?

No. As long as you can play you can join the band. We currently have people of every age in the band from school kids to too old to admit

2. Where are practices held ?

We have our National Practices in Blair Drummond. Regional practices take place all over Scotland – so there will be one near you.

3. Do I have to commit to Every event ?

No. We understand all band members have busy lives. We ask that you commit to as many events as possible, and as many practices as possible but nobody is expected to attend everything.

4. I don’t play an instrument yet – do the band provide lessons ?

Sadly not. Due to the geographical spread of all the band members we are unable to offer lessons at this time

5. What equipment does the band provide for pipers ?

The band provide the cherished blue bonnet, the waistcoat, a pipe chanter, chanter reed, reed protector and a flag for your drones. Just as important though, help, support, advice and friendship, and the chance to March on the road to Independence.

6. What do pipers need to provide for themselves ?

Your own set of pipes, your own practice chanter, your kilt, ghillie shirt, belt, sporran, socks, flashes, shoes and cape. A willing attitude and a sense of humour.

7. What equipment does the band provide for drummers ?

The band provide the cherished blue bonnet, the waistcoat, the drum and harness. Just as important though, help, support, advice and friendship, and the chance to March on the road to Independence.

8. What do drummers need to provide for themselves ?

Your own drum sticks and practice pad,  your kilt, ghillie shirt, belt, sporran, socks, flashes, shoes and cape. A willing attitude and a sense of humour.

9. I have a disability – can I still join ?

Yes, yes yes.  We will do everything we can to accommodate any disability. Whether you need somebody to push your wheelchair or any other help we will find ways to help and support you

10. Am I good enough ?

We are not a competition band and don’t ever intend to be. We are an open inclusive band and have players of a variety of abilities. Yes we need players to reach a minimum standard and will work with them to help them improve, but we don’t expect Grade 1. We are just as interested in your personality, your willingness to fit in and your hunger for independence

11. How do I apply ?

In the first instance use the contact us button and we’ll take it from there. You will be asked to submit a short video of yourself playing – nothing too serious (30 seconds on your phone will be fine).

If you would like to join us or just find out more information please get in touch.

A day out in the Borders

The first ever March for Independence in the Borders was a great day out for the band.

We would like to thank the people of Gala and surrounding area for making us feel so welcome as we went for a wee wander with a few thousand friends round their town on June 1st.

Although we have a lot of band members who are local to the area, for some of us it was our first visit to The Borders – and it didn’t disappoint.

The sun shone, the flags flew, the crowds gathered and as always on an Indy March everybody smiled – what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon. We cant tell you how much your support means to us and how much fun we have. In fact many of the band made a weekend of it – staying locally on Friday and/or Saturday night.

 

 

 

Our pipers, as always, being at the front end up in all the photos – and a fine looking bunch they are …..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But lets not forget our fabulous drum corps, often hidden away at the back, without whom it wouldn’t be much of a band.

 

 

 

It was another big first for us. We had our first ever stall at the rally.  As we keep saying keeping a pipe band going is an expensive affair,  and in our efforts to become totally self financing we need to find ways to raise money.

 

The stall was a resounding success – largely due to our dedicated team who worked so hard manning it. It was a steep learning curve and we plan to come back bigger and better at future marches!  Look out for new products being added to our range !

 

 

With more marches under out belts we all seem to bump into people we know at every outing now – turning Scotland into a huge village. Our next outing will be on 15th June when we will be Marching for Independence in Oban – we’re certainly getting to see parts of our beautiful country that we might not otherwise visit ! We hope to see thousands of your there.

 

 

 

 

Meet the Pipers

Every one of our pipers has had to earn their place in the band. Starting with video auditions to make the first cut,  then regular attendance at practices to ensure they are all capable of playing to an acceptable standard. For some its their first time playing in a band, others fit it in with playing with their local pipebands. More…

The Pipe band of the Scottish Independence Yes Movement

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