The Best Kept Secret

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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/

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The Pipe band of the Scottish Independence Yes Movement

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