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Date: Tuesday, 24th September 2013
Contributor: Ian Embelton - HQ

Making The Grade on BBC Alba


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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 bandís history.

The Lewis Pipe Band has long been an integral part of island life in the Western isles, and todayís band is made up from people from all walks of life Ė 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 FŤis 10 years ago, and has been drumming ever since. ďItís like an obsession. It requires a lot of commitment when youíre part of the pipe band. The band are like another family. Itís just great!Ē

2012 saw the band head for the British Pipe Band Championships Ė only the second time theyíd 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 Ė a competitive gathering of no fewer than 120 pipe bands from all over the world.

But with different jobs, and pressure on peopleís time itís 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. ďI 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 Iíve got great backing with the guys when Iím not here, so I can put my full trust in them to get the job done.Ē

As the weeks go by it proves difficult for some to get to practice. Piper, Hector MacLean live in Ness Ė 27 miles away from Stornoway. As well as being a postman, heís also a crofter so doesnít have much free time during the spring Ė ďI havenít been able to get to practices because itís lambing time. Sometimes Iím not finished work until late, and by the time Iím ready itís too late to go to Stornoway for a practice. Iím the furthest away

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 Bandís 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[2]
Virgin Media - Channel 188
Smallworld Cable - Channel 170

The programme will also be available on BBC iPlayer and Catch Up On Demand

Ian Embelton
Chief Executive


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