Cupples named pipe major of PSNI Pipe Band

Pipe major Robert Cupples with Cullybackey Pipe Band competing in Grade 1. Robert has been named pipe major of the Pipes and Drums of the PSNI.
Pipe major Robert Cupples with Cullybackey Pipe Band competing in Grade 1. Robert has been named pipe major of the Pipes and Drums of the PSNI.

The Pipes and Drums of The Police Service of Northern Ireland have announced that after seven years at the helm, Colin McClelland is stepping down as pipe major. Taking the reins and leading the band with immediate effect is Robert Cupples, a longstanding associate of the band.

Colin has had a 25 year involvement with the band as a player and as the pipe major. Robert has confirmed that Colin is to remain within the ranks and will take up an appointment as one of the band’s pipe sergeants.

Robert has been associated with the police pipe band for over 28 years and served from 1999-2001 as pipe sergeant in the Grade 1 Pipes and Drums of the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC. He is not short of experience having formerly been pipe major of Cullybackey Pipe Band and led them when they won the 2007 World Pipe Band Championships in Grade 2 and their subsequent promotion to Grade 1.

Commenting on the change, Colin said: “I feel the timing of my decision to step aside for Robert is right. I wanted to stand down as pipe major at a time when the band was in a position of forward momentum and I feel that we are in that place. The plan is to take the band to a new level and I believe under Robert’s stewardship we can achieve that.”

Speaking about his appointment, Robert said: “It is an honour to be asked to lead the Pipes & Drums of the Police Service of Northern Ireland - I have enjoyed a long association with the band.

“I want to thank Colin for all his hard work and commitment. He took the band back out onto the competition circuit in 2009 after an absence of several years. and has led the band to success and he delivered the promotion of the band to Grade 2. The band is firmly established amongst the top six in the world in Grade 2 having recorded a fifth place finish at the 2015 World Pipe Band Championships and my objective is to take us further.

“I count Colin as a very close friend and I am delighted that he will remain with us and he will assist me to ensure a seamless transition in leadership.”

The chairman of the Pipes and Drums of the PSNI, Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin, who made the appointment, thanked Colin for his efforts and leadership and said that he was sure the band would continue to progress and achieve great success under the new Pipe Major Robert Cupples.

After more than 25 years with the same leading drummer Shotts and Dykehead Caledonia have now appointed their second lead-tip in as many months.

It is just a few short weeks after the difficulties that followed the decision to replace long-serving drum sergeant Jim Kilpatrick with Blair Brown taking control of the corps. However, the band has confirmed that Brown will not take the corps which will now be under the leadership of Andrew Lawson.

The last few months have certainly been difficult for Shotts who in August were celebrating grade one world championship success.

I have been asked to remind readers that McDonald Memorial Pipe Band will be holding a Christmas Fair in Dromore on Friday, November 27. Tables cost £12 each. To book a table, please contact Vikki on 077 4395 4912 or by e-mail to

I am reliably informed that Santa will be making an appearance at the event.

Cairncastle Ulster Scots Culture Group’s series of winter events commences with St Andrew’s Night on Wednesday, November 25, at 8pm in Halfway House Hotel, Ballygally. The evening will have a Scottish flavour with Stonewall folk group, from Armagh, making their debut appearance at Cairncastle. The Scottish flavour continues with shortbread/flaked meal biscuits provided by the hotel at the tea break. Admission £5. For information contact 07810 294 648 or email