A record breaking 700 young pipers and drummers tuned up and took part in the world’s largest schools piping event in Livingston on Sunday 11th March.

Students from 150 Scottish schools attended the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships, which showcases Scotland’s young musical talent, at Inveralmond Community High School in West Lothian and took part in a range of competitions from quartets to pipe band performances, wowing the judges and audience with phenomenal playing.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon attended the event, which is funded and organised by music charity, Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT) and presented the prizes to the winners.

The winner of the Juvenile category, which features young pipers at the top of their game, was Dollar Academy. The winner of the innovative Freestyle category, which encourages pipers and other instrumentalists to play new compositions and arrangements, was Preston Lodge High School. Ullapool Schools Pipe Band took home the special Eilidh MacLeod Endeavour Award. The award recognises the wonderful values that youth pipe bands encourage and is named in honour of the young member of the Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band who tragically lost her life in the Manchester Arena bombing last year. Eilidh exemplified team spirit, commitment and camaraderie.

Also awarded on the day was the winner of Piping Hit 2018, a national competition, to find a young composer of an iconic new tune for the Great Highland Bagpipe. 14 year old Archie MacKechnie from Dollar Academy, was the worthy winner, with his 2/4 march, The 7.53 to Glasgow. Archie and his friend, Ruaridh Brown performed Archie’s winning composition on the day.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon commented: “Year of Young People is celebrating the very best of Scotland and its young people, so I was particularly pleased to be able to attend this year’s Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships. I’d like to congratulate everyone who took part. It’s clear that an enormous amount of preparation and hard work has been put in by all the young pipers. The Scottish Government recognises the value of music to young people, and the Scottish Schools Pipe and Drums Trust play an important role in enabling more young people opportunities to get involved.”

David Johnston, SSPBC Committee Chairman, said: “We are incredibly proud of all the pipe bands who took part in today’s Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships. The level of playing throughout the day was very high and it was particularly pleasing to see so many schools represented for the first time at this year’s event. The event, which is currently in its sixth year, caters for every level including fledgling outfits that may not have previously competed or even played in public and it was very encouraging to see so many young people here today. The whole purpose of this event is to encourage the formation of pipe bands in state schools and to put our national instruments on a par with other music provision in the classroom.”

Alex Duncan, SSPDT Chief Executive, added: “It was fantastic to listen to all the bands and quartets and to witness the hard work and dedication that has gone into getting here today. All the students, tutors, schools and families should be very proud of what they have achieved.

“The SSPDT was founded partly to help protect and expand Scotland’s unique musical heritage, but also to give young people opportunities to develop a unique set of skills that will stay with them for life. SSPDT currently supports 2,500 pupils in 190 schools to learn, and we are in the fortunate position of being able to extend our activities. We partner with a range of organisations that manage the delivery of tuition at a local or regional level and we welcome all enquiries.”

For full details of all the performers and winners from the day, please visit www.thechampionships.org.uk.