Thank You Inverness !

A spectacular day in the Highland Capital

What can you say about a wonderful day out in beautiful sunshine, strolling through the heart of the Highlands with several thousand fellow yessers?  It was breathtaking. It was a buzz. It was incredible. It was full of joy and laughter and children and music. And it sent a very clear message that there most definitely is an appetite for Independence in the North.

This was a first for us. A march organised by a group of dedicated locals. Understanding that not everyone can travel hundreds of miles to attend the big marches which are usually several hours away down the A9,  for a variety of reasons, this team had a dream to bring the march to the people. It was a gamble, but boy did it pay off.  The Indy family rallied round and gave them their full support. This march had everything you’d expect at the big mega marches …. the roar of the Yes Bikers, the dignity of the Silent Clansman, the Cairn of the Yes Stoners etc … and us. It was also supported by our local politicians , including the leader of the SNP at Westminster Ian Blackford and Inverness MP Drew Hendry. And better yet, in Inverness, in January the sun shone down on us all for the whole day. Add to that, the estimated 12000 marches who took part, flags flying, whistles blowing and press teams from all around the globe, this march even made it onto the BBC news.

As usual our intrepid team of band assistants came from all over the country to make sure the band could play without worrying about any practical details.

But as you’d expect, the relaxed family friendly atmosphere meant there were not too many demands on them so they had time for a wee dance while the band warmed up.

 

Despite it being Burns day and a lot of our pipers having previous commitments to play at various events round the county we managed to put out a reasonable size band.  A special mention for JR and his wife who made the trip and then dashed off as he was booked to play in Edinburgh that night !  As usual our team came from all over, from the Borders to Glasgow, Oban to Falkirk and of course our “local” members who were delighted for a change not to be the ones doing the early start !

 

The only thing that confuses me about the day is the counter demonstration.

We’re all used to marching past a few unionists with flags – but does anybody now what the gnome costumes are all about ? They certainly made me smile

 

 

The beauty of a windy day is the flags fly and make a fabulous backdrop to the photos – so check out our gallery of pictures from the day at https://saoralbapd.scot/projects/freedom-march-inverness/ 

It was an honour, a joy and a privilege for us to lead this march – days like this are the very reason we were formed and the reason we exist …  to join the Yes family marching on the road to Independence

This was everything a March should be. The organising team really cant be praised and thanked enough. They thought of everything and brought the local community along with them. Local businesses offered discounts to Yessers, arranged entertainment for them and embraced the influx of visitors to the area. Rather than march and run, people were encouraged to enjoy our beautiful city and actually taste a wee bit of our history, our culture and our people. Imagine that being replicated all across Scotland.

If any local groups across Scotland are inspired to try and replicate this wonderful event in your own area and would like us to support you please get in touch – we cant promise to attend every event, but we’ll try our best.

Remembering Friends and Loved Ones

We are all very aware that the fight for Scottish Independence has been going on for a very long time.

Many loyal campaigners and supporters have very sadly not lived long enough to see our beautiful country regain her freedom. We know they march with us in spirit, we know most of us have somebody we carry with us in our hearts every day. When news that a band supporters mother had passed , the idea was born for the band to play a tune in her memory. One of our pipers Hugh Scott suggested that we could maybe extend the tribute to include more friends and loved ones who would be marching with us if they could. When the idea was floated on our facebook page we were overwhelmed by the interest – and quickly collected a list of over a hundred names of people who needed to be remembered.

Before we took part in the March in Glasgow we took some time out to play “Freedom Come all Ye” by the Stewart Memorial Fountain in Kelvingrove Park, whilst our lead piper Alasdair read out the list of names of your lost loved ones.

We hope our heartfelt tribute brought some kind of comfort to those of you grieving, and went some way to show how much we appreciate your support as we keep marching on the road to independence.

Given the apparent popularity of this tribute we will be doing it again some time in the future (perhaps not at every event, but we will do it).

If you would like any of your loved ones remembering during a future tribute, please keep an eye on our facebook page as that’s where we will ask for names.

It was a great honour for us to be able to do this and getting feedback on how much it meant to the families has been both moving and humbling.

 

You can see all the photos of the whole day (including the march) in our gallery at https://saoralbapd.scot/projects/glasgow-january-11th-2020/

A Big Year Ahead

Happy 2020 – bring on Indyref2020

Hope Santa was good to you all and you’ve started 2020 with renewed vigour to march with us on the road to independence.

Our online shop is now fully back up and running and the first orders of the year have been posted !

On Saturday we will join thousands (hopefully hundreds of thousands) at the Mega March in Glasgow. If the weather forecast is right , expect lots of black capes as like everybody else we try and keep warm and dry .. good job our trademark blue bonnets are waterproof !

We are currently collecting names of loved ones who didnt live to see our beautiful country regain her freedom. Our plan is to read out their names and play a tune in their memory before the march. We know they march with us in spirit.

We are delighted to confirm that we will also be putting out a band for the Inverness March on the 25th January. Bearing in mind its January, so most people are finding it tough to get to payday, its only 2 weeks after the Glasgow March,its the middle of winter and its way up in the Highlands, we will not be attending in the numbers you may be used to at the big city marches – not because we dont want to, but because of a diary clash with Burns Night …there’s a lot of Burns Suppers that had booked their pipers well in advance making it impossible for some of our members to get up to Inverness and back in time to pipe in their respective Haggis. But we are none the less thrilled to be supporting this grass roots march and fully support the local team making it happen. If you have no other plans, please consider supporting this event, make a weekend of it – Inverness is a fabulous city with loads to see and do, you could even add in a visit to Culloden Battlefield !

Time to get those boots back on and start Marching on the Road to Independence

 

Merry Christmas from SAPD

Our shop staff are now on holiday

Our last orders have been boxed up and posted, and now our shop volunteers are taking a break to spend Christmas with their loved ones.

The online shop will remain open, so you can still browse and place orders, but nothing will now be dispatched till after the holidays.

We’d like to thank you for your orders,for your support and for marching with us on the road to Independence.

The band are all taking a well deserved break,  and will be back with you in Glasgow on 11th January.2020

Merry Christmas from of us all.

Saor Alba

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/

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.

 

 

 

 

The Pipe band of the Scottish Independence Yes Movement

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