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Friday, June 21, 2024

Chieftain Accolade for Drum Major Inspired as a Lad

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A man who was inspired to join his local pipe band after watching them on parade has been chosen as the chieftain for the Forres Highland Games.

Mike Munro, the drum major of the Forres & District Pipe Band joined the organisation as a 10-year-old boy after witnessing them parading into the Highland Games arena.

Now, he will have the honour of welcoming his own pipe band when they do the same on July 6, to officially open the 96th Forres Highland Games.

Mike came to Forres in 1966 as a five-year-old boy.

That year, he was taken to the Forres Highland Games as he explained:

“My dad was in the army and we had just moved here from Rhodesia.

“That year, we went along to what was my first ever experience of a Highland Games.

“We watched the massed pipe bands and they were led by a man called Jimmy Watson and I was totally inspired and thought ‘one day, I’ll be in a pipe band,’ I was just in awe, he was a giant of a man.”

Five years later, Mike, fulfilled his dream and he became a junior drummer with the band.

“Jimmy became my hero.

“He taught me everything I know,” explained Mike.

“My main drum was the tenor drum, although I started out as a side drummer and eventually learned the base drum too.

“That’s what led me to being given the role as the drum major, because I know all the drums and took a keen interest in the tuition for the pipe band.”

Mike who works for Moray Council as a renewables engineer and has been the drum major for 15 years said he is thrilled to be taking on the important role of Chieftain.

“I am truly honoured.

“I feel really good about it, although it will be strange not to be with the band.

“We have had a chuckle that the senior drum major will have to ask my permission to lead the bands off the park after the massed pipes have played.

“I had to do the same a few years ago, when the late John Channon, our former chairman and piper with the band was given the same honour.

“We couldn’t help but raise a smile at each other.”

Mike said that the Forres & District Pipe Band is looking forward to a busy season although recruitment for new members is always something they are trying to improve.

They will be attending several other Highland Games and have entered the British Pipe Band Championships which will be held under the name MacPiping Hot Forres in Grant Park on June 8.

“We are very excited about the season ahead.

“We are hoping to reinstate our regular performances in the floral gardens on Fridays throughout the tourist season and we are delighted that the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association is bringing an event back to Forres.

“It’s great for us a band and it’s fabulous for the town.

“We are also taking part in the Grant Park 100 event in August, so there is a lot going on.”

He added:

“We are always looking for new pipe band members though and currently we are operating without a chairperson.

“We have about 20 members, but it would be great to have more.”

Mike who lives in Dallas will joined at the Forres Highland Games by his wife Irene and children Louise and Fraser and his partner Ami and granddaughter Morgan. 

Major general, Seymour Monro, the Lord Lieutenant of Moray and President of the Forres & District Pipe Band said:

“Mike has been in the Forres Pipe Band for so many years and notably has been Drum Major whilst six pipe majors have come and gone.

“Great continuity.

“Mike has been at the head of the Band during the Highland Military Tattoo, the European Pipe Band Championships, Remembrance Sundays and many local community events.

“He has encouraged drumming and the Band now have a very strong drum corps indeed with many youngsters in it, a joy to see and hear.

“I think we all have a great pride in what Mike has achieved in his quiet but determined way.

“His standards are high.

“I am really delighted that this fine man and Drum Major has been chosen to be this year’s Chieftain.”

Fred Davidson, the president of the Forres Highland Games said they were looking forward to welcoming Mike and his family on July 6.

“Given Mike’s service to the Forres and District Pipe Band over the last 60 years, it was only fitting that we asked him to be Chieftain.

“His commitment to the band has been unwavering and he has been an inspiration to many.

“It is wonderful to know that Mike will be performing this important role, back where it all began for him as a young boy.

“We are honoured to have him and will ensure that he and  his family have a wonderful ay out.”

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