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Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band

field marshal montgomery

Gallery

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World War II had just ended. It was the summer of 1945. The natives were emerging from the 'cocoon' of restrictions in the townland of Drumalig, a few miles from Carryduff on the outskirts of Belfast. A group of youths, mostly farmers' sons, congregated in a corrugated-iron, lean-to garage on the farm of Fred Scott. Somewhat tired of their wartime pursuits (which were limited), they hit upon the idea of forming a pipe band. But got bogged-down on just what to put in the title!

Unanimity finally prevailed, and in due time, a correspondence was sent to Bernard Law Montgomery, seeking his permission to use his name with regard to the 'raising' of a pipe band in Carryduff.

Now 'resident' within the bustling Borough of Lisburn - having moved from Carryduff in the early nineties - the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band draws playing personnel from all walks of life.

During the winter of 1949-1950 the then Scottish Pipe Band Association (given the Royal prerogative in 1980) set up 'shop' in Northern Ireland, with the Field Marshal Montgomery, under their pipe major William (Billy) Maxwell (now band president), becoming an active and enthusiastic member band.

Tutored in those formative years by the legendary W.H.R. (Billy) Wood, the Carryduff based outfit made its way through the 'basement' divisions, winning most of the principal prizes in the process.

Richard (Ricky) Newell was the next custodian of the 'outside right' pole position, and during his tenure of office as pipe major, the Field Marshal Montgomery band enjoyed a notable period of success. Under Ricky Newell's leadership, the band won many big prizes, the ultimate being the Grade 3 World Championship in 1976. Hawick was the venue and in the ranks on that red-letter day were two youngsters who would, in the not too distant future, play a leading part in the band's fortunes. Namely Richard and Gordon Parkes. Both lads had joined the ranks of the County Down band within a few months of each other - that was in 1967 - and since the early 80's had been responsible for the musical direction of the Field Marshal Montgomery band, as pipe major and drum sergeant respectively.

Richard's belief was that to survive and progress to the highest level in Grade 1, the band would require commitment, hard work; but above all else, talented players. His philosophy was, that if the band sounded good, presented itself well and played attractive material, then players would want to come and play. Up until 1989, the band had been making steady progress in Scotland, gaining three top ten placings at the Worlds, but in 1990 the dream was realised.

‘Unlucky 13’ - not in the psyche of the personnel of Field Marshal Montgomery. Millennium year 2000 saw the band attain two more ‘majors’ - the European and the Scottish. During the 2001 season the ‘majors’ tally was increased further to seventeen with the championships attained at the European and Cowal Highland Gathering. The Ulster and All Ireland titles were also acclaimed in another successful season.

Even by the standard set by the band, Field Marshal Montgomery had a phenomenal 2002 competition season. On the home front the All Ireland Grade 1 title was won for the thirteenth time since 1989. The Ulster title was retained later in the season. But what of the major championships? FMMPB was second in the Scottish at Dumbarton, retained the European championship, both as a band and as a drum corps, and won the British championship in Ayr. In the week leading up to the World Championships Montgomery played the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on the Wednesday evening, a performance which was recorded and issued as the band’s third album entitled ‘Unplugged’.

Following two superb performances on the Saturday the band were crowned World Champions for the third time, also securing first place as a band in the MSR and Medley Sections, first in drumming in the Medley and second in drumming overall. Drum Major Alastair Patterson capped a memorable day by becoming the Adult Drum Major World Champion for the second time. And so to Dunoon where the band retained the Cowal Highland Gathering Championship to ensure Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band won the Supreme Champion of Champions Grade 1 award for the third time. Andrew Scullion’s drum corps were runners up in the drumming Champion of Champions award one point behind winners Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia. By the end of 2002 the ‘majors’ tally had increased to 21.

Richard and Gordon Parkes constituted a unique combination involving two of the country's - and for that matter the world's - leading authorities on the noble art of piping and drumming.

Musicians par excellence, the Parkes brothers have, down the years, endeavoured to assemble a group of pipers and drummers whose talents and ability would always do honour to the famous name they bore. During a lifetime of endeavour, many others had 'fallen by the wayside' in attempting such a goal, but in just three seasons of Grade 1 involvement, the Field Marshal Montgomery band led by the Parkes brothers had accomplished their triad of attainment.

Dedication, application and unlimited hours of practice have been influential in the elevation of Andrew Scullion to the dizzy percussion pinnacle he has now reached. He has won the Ulster Senior and All Ireland Senior Solo championships on numerous occasions and has also been World Adult Solo champion on three occasions, and the World Solo Champion of Champions twice.

Under Andrew’s guidance the corps won the British title in Lisburn in 1999, and in 2000 lifted the RSPBA Drum Corps Champion of Champions title taking the prestigious Alex Duthart Trophy out of Scotland for the first time in history. Andrew departed from FMMPB at the end of 2002, having brought a wealth of drumming honours to the band and passed on invaluable experience to the players in his drum corps that would serve them well in the years ahead.

Keith Orr was appointed to the position of leading drummer in 2003, inheriting a world class drum corps. Many factors were considered during his appointment, none less than his impressive CV. In his first season in charge, Keith has consolidated the corps' position as a competitive force in Grade 1 and helped the band to another Champion of Champions title, more than proving that he was the right man for the job.

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Equipment

Sides:

  • 0800SPX-C (x14)
    14’’ x 12’’ HTS 800

Tenor and Bass:

  • 396512SPX (x2)
    15’’ x 12’’ Professional Series Tenor Drum
  • 396612SPX (x2)
    16’’ x 12’’ Professional Series Tenor Drum
  • 396614SPX
    16’’ x 14’’ Professional Series Tenor Drum
  • 396814SPX
    18’’ x 14’’ Professional Series Tenor Drum
  • 397014SPX
    20’’ x 14’’ Professional Series Tenor Drum
  • 398818SPX
    28’’ x 18’’ Professional Series Bass Drum

Finish:

  • Sapphire Sparkle Fade Lacquer (SXBF) with Diamond Chrome hardware

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