Date: Tuesday, 24th September 2013
Contributor: Ian Embelton - HQ
Making The Grade on BBC Alba
A TV documentary on the Lewis Pipe Band filmed in part at Piping Hot Forres the European Pipe Band
Championships in June, sponsored by Benromach Speyside Single Malt Whisky, is to be screened on BBC
Alba on Monday 30 September at 2100 hrs.
Making the Grade - the story of the ambitious but inexperienced Lewis Pipe Band as MacTV follows them
through the ups and downs as they step up to meet the challenge of Piping Hot Forres the European Pipe
Band Championship in 2013 and write a brave, new chapter in the band’s history.
The Lewis Pipe Band has long been an integral part of island life in the Western isles, and today’s band is
made up from people from all walks of life – amongst them, council workers, drivers, teachers, and crofters.
In recent years many young people have joined the band. One of them is 22 year old drummer, Uilleam MacLeod,
a part-time driver, and DJ with the local community radio station, Isles FM. Uilleam first tried drumming at the local Fèis 10 years ago, and has been drumming ever since. “It’s like an obsession. It requires a
lot of commitment when you’re part of the pipe band. The band are like another family. It’s just great!”
2012 saw the band head for the British Pipe Band Championships – only the second time they’d ever taken
part in a competition at that level. To their huge surprise they finished second in their grade and were promoted to grade 4A.
Not content with this success though the band were hungry for more and this year decided to make their
debut at Piping Hot Forres the European Pipe Band Championships – a competitive gathering of no fewer
than 120 pipe bands from all over the world.
But with different jobs, and pressure on people’s time it’s going to be a tall task. Their leader, Pipe Major Peter MacKay is all too well aware of the difficulties as he works off shore which brings its own challenges. “I
work out in the North Sea on a 2 on 2 off rota. So it can be difficult at times with commitment to the band.
But obviously I’ve got great backing with the guys when I’m not here, so I can put my full trust in them to
get the job done.”
As the weeks go by it proves difficult for some to get to practice. Piper, Hector MacLean live in Ness – 27
miles away from Stornoway. As well as being a postman, he’s also a crofter so doesn’t have much free time
during the spring – “I haven’t been able to get to practices because it’s lambing time. Sometimes I’m not
finished work until late, and by the time I’m ready it’s too late to go to Stornoway for a practice. I’m the
Follow the journey of the Lewis Pipe Band to Piping Hot Forres, the European Pipe Band
Championships, last June, and to seeing the Championships from the Band’s perspective.
BBC Alba can be found on the following channel numbers:
Freeview - Channel 8 (Scotland only)
Freesat - Channel 110
Sky (UK only) - Channel 143
Astra 1N - 10803 H 22000 5/6
Virgin Media - Channel 188
Smallworld Cable - Channel 170
The programme will also be available on BBC iPlayer and Catch Up On Demand
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