The third of the 2016 season’s RSPBA major championships, the Europeans, took place on Saturday in Forres near Inverness.
The travel distance coupled with the need for an overnight stay meant that there was a restricted representation from the Northern Ireland Branch with only three bands travelling.
However, there was still some silverware to be brought home with the Pipes and Drums of the PSNI in outstanding form as they annexed the Grade 2 title to add to their British and European titles.
In Grade 1 Field Marshal Montgomery were unable to add to the UK title they won at Stormont a fortnight earlier when they finished second to St Laurence O’Toole. The Dublin-based band put a poor showing in Belfast behind them to take the European title, just falling short of getting the nod from all four adjudicators when they were placed second in the drumming to winners Inveraray & District who were third overall.
Our other Grade 1 contender Bleary & District were well out of the prizes pinpointing just how difficult it is at this level despite a decent showing.
There was the usual strong representation in the drum majors contests. It was good to see a new name on the top prize when Andrea McKeown Gibson (Battlehill) lifted the adult trophy. Andrea beat off a trio of serious challenges from former world champions Paula Braiden (Cullybackey) and Alicia Dickson Hamilton (Matt Boyd Memorial) and the consistent Lauren Hanna (Drumlough) who has a string of wins behind her this season.
In the Juvenile section Emma Barr (Field Marshal Montgomery) beat off the challenge from Caitlin Graham (Upper Crossgare), the British champion, to add to a string of local titles and a UK Championship win so far this season.
The Junior title went to Jason Nicholl (Tullylagan).
Grade 1. 1st St Laurence O’Toole. Best Drums: Inveraray & District
Grade 2. 1st PSNI. Best Drums: Glasgow Skye Association.
Grade 3A: 1st Lewis. Best Drums: Stockbridge.
Grade 3B: 1st 2622 [Highland] Squadron RAF [also Best Drums].
Grade 4A: 1st Lanark & District. Best Drums: Ullapool & District
Grade 4B: 1st Johnstone. Best Drums: Elgin &District
Juvenile: 1st Dollar Academy. Best Drums: George Watsons College.
Novice Juvenile A: Dollar Academy. Best Drums: George Watsons College Novice.
Novice Juvenile B: 1st Lochgelly High School [also Best Drums]