Pipe band Bells are ringing in changes

COLDSTREAM Pipe Band is about to enter a new era as a new pipe major takes over. But the pipe band will still be led by a Bell - as Rob hands over to his son Duncan.

Rob took over as pipe major in 1967/8 from Gordon Thompson, who was captain of the 1st Coldstream Company The Boys Brigade, and when the band became Coldstream Pipe Band in 1979, Gordon became chairman, a position he still holds today.

Speaking about the change of leadership at the pipe band Gordon said: “Although he is retiring as pipe major Rob will remain a member of Coldstream Pipe Band and will continue to tutor the young members on a Monday night from 7-8pm.

“His successor is Duncan Bell, his son. We wish Duncan every success with the leadership of the pipe band.

“Rob started his piping career in the Boys Brigade firstly learning the chanter and progressing on to the bagpipes.

“He has been pipe major since 1979 apart from one year when Sandy Taylor took over. Rob has never failed in his duties as pipe major and has rarely missed any bookings or practice sessions on Monday evenings. The number of youngsters he has taught in his career is phenomenal, and he will continue to teach them.”

Duncan has been playing the pipes since the age of ten, and 25 years later he has built up enough experience to lead the pipe band into the future, confidently stepping into his father’s shoes.

The town’s community centre was full to capacity on Saturday, for the Coldstream Pipe Band concert, which marked the change of the old guard from father to son.

And Rob’s versatility as a musician was on display at Saturday’s concert. As well as performing with the pipe band, Rob’s band Cody brought the evening to a rousing end - this time Rob swapping his pipes for the guitar.

The concert was a fitting tribute to one of the town’s outstanding musical talents, displaying the depth and range of musical and dance ability in the area: a trio of talented Scottish dancers from the Lynella School of Dance; hip hop dancers Mpulsive; Katie Johnson’s cello solo; ceilidh musicians Graham Dolan and friends; and two local duos entertained as only they can, Ken Pritchard (piano) and Bobby Hanlon, and John Elliot and Susan Romanis.

But the evening very much belonged to the Bells - as well as Rob stepping aside and son Duncan taking over as pipe major, Rob’s wife Elspeth Bell, who has been secretary and treasurer of the pipe band for many years, was also presented with the Brown Scott Quaich as the town’s citizen of the year making it a true family affair - just as Coldstream Pipe Band is one big family and will continue to be so.