Liv­ing the pipe dream

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Weekly Life -

WHEN Sergeant Ian Ste­wart moved to Perth from Glas­gow with his fam­ily 11 years ago as part of an in­ter­na­tional po­lice of­fi­cer re­cruit­ment cam­paign, the last thing he ex­pected was to be­come of­fi­cer in charge of the award­win­ning May­lands-based WA Po­lice Pipe Band.

“I’d worked in front­line ser­vices, traf­fic, in­tel­li­gence and crash be­fore I was ap­proached by man­age­ment three-anda-half years ago to see if I was in­ter­ested in tak­ing over the band,” Ste­wart said.

“I think prob­a­bly be­cause of the ac­cent I stood out in the boss’s mind as the ideal fit for it.

“I had zero back­ground in pipe bands, other than hear­ing them ev­ery now and again in Scot­land.

“I love mu­sic but I’m not a mu­si­cian; they won’t even give me a tri­an­gle.”

Ste­wart said the new polic­ing post was a mas­sive learn­ing curve that took him out of his com­fort zone while he learnt not only how a pipe band worked but also how to man­age a po­lice depart­ment.

He is re­spon­si­ble for or­gan­is­ing the 220 to 240 polic­ing and com­mu­nity en­gage­ments per year the band plays at, ei­ther per­form­ing the drum ma­jor role dur­ing a pa­rade or cer­e­mony and MC at a con­cert.

The band con­sists of two sworn po­lice of­fi­cers and 13 unsworn staff who are civil­ian em­ploy­ees of WA Po­lice; na­tion­al­i­ties in­clude Scot­tish, Aus­tralian, South African and North­ern Ir­ish.

“Most of the peo­ple in the band are ei­ther cur­rent or for­mer world piper pipers or drum­mers, so the qual­ity we’re at­tract­ing is sec­ond to none,” Ste­wart said.

“At the be­gin­ning of Oc­to­ber we re­tained the ti­tle of Grade 1 Pre­mier Pipe Band of Aus­tralia for the third time in a row at the Na­tional Pipe Band Cham­pi­onships in Syd­ney.”

The suc­cess will con­tinue as WA Po­lice Pipe Band presents its 50th an­niver­sary con­cert at Winthrop Hall, UWA, on Fri­day, De­cem­ber 2.

“We’re tak­ing a bit of a tour through the 50 years, so there will be a few tracks that are pretty fa­mous around the world and tunes peo­ple will recog­nise,” Ste­wart said.

“But the idea is to show­case how the band has trans­formed over the past 50 years, so there will be a story as such and it will be a con­tem­po­rary-style con­cert; it won’t just be bag­pipes and drums.”

The pro­gram will in­clude per­for­mances by Vic­to­ria Mur­ray on ac­cor­dion, Fiona David­son on fid­dle, Scot­tish High­land Dance Academy, Scotch Col­lege Pipe and Drums, Pres­by­te­rian Ladies Col­lege Pipes and Drums and Church­lands SHS String En­sem­ble.

“A lot of peo­ple in WA will prob­a­bly have never seen bag­pipes and drums played in the way that we’re go­ing to be play­ing them on the night,” Ste­wart said.

“It won’t all be just mil­i­tary style, which you might think it would be.

“Hope­fully there will be a lot of toetap­ping and a lot of head-bop­ping and clap­ping on the night.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d461278

WA Po­lice Pipe Band drum­mer Gary Pot­ter, piper and su­per­vi­sor Chris Ma­cauley and pipe ma­jor James Mur­ray.

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