Aniko Forgo and Pipe Major Don MacLeod stand with Robbie Burns on his 261st birthday, during a North Okanagan Pipes and Drums event at the Elks Lodge. (Submitted Photo)

Bagpipes once rocked by Beatles

North Okanagan Pipes and Drums share some unique history

The Beatles played the pipes once upon a time, and now they are a legendary rock band.

Not saying the North Okanagan Pipes and Drums will make you the next Ringo Starr, but who knows where it could take you?

The local Scottish piping and drumming group has an established history in the North Okanagan with bands forming in Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Vernon and Kelowna. In the late 1930s, as a four- or five-year-old lad, Barry Mattock, one of the founding members, marched with his dad, a bass drummer in the Kildonnan Pipe Band. That band operated until the early 1960s. Sheila Sperling, another of our founding members, was active with the MacIntosh Girls’ Pipe Band. Started in 1947 by Horace Foote, former Drum Major of the Kildonnan Pipe Band, this band ran until 1980.

Founded in October of 2012, the North Okanagan Pipes and Drums has 28 members, all of whom are interested in getting together, playing the music they love, and performing for the community.

The latest gathering saw the group pack the Elks Lodge for the annual Robbie Burns Dinner.

“Robbie himself, at 261 years old, dropped by for a ‘wee dram’ and to thank the revelers for keeping his memories and traditions alive after so many years,” said Pipe Major Don MacLeod.

An enthusiastic crowd was entertained by the Aviemore School of Highland Dance and the Vernon Scottish Country Dancers, along with the pipe band. But not before a traditional meal of roast beef, ‘tatties & neeps’ and of course a generous supply of haggis fed the hungry mob. After getting the crowd up to learn a few country dances the evening ended with a lone piper playing the famous Burns tune, Auld Lang Syne while the dancers formed a circle and swayed to the music as they sang the classic song.

The band would like to thank all the wonderful local businesses who helped make the night a success: The Elks, Snap Fitness, The Real Canadian SuperStore, Nixon Wanger and Jaquelin Stavely PMT at Rose City Wellness As well as numerous individuals who donated gifts, material items and their time to make this a great evening for the band and all who attended.

The band consists of all ages, from its youngest musician at 11, to the oldest who is 86. There are also many family themes to the band, with a a father and son, mother and daughter, grandfather and grandsons, brothers, and a husband and wife.

READ MORE: Dawg brings bark to Vernon

READ MORE: Local vocal talents sought for Okanagan stage


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The Beatles played the pipes too. (Submitted Photo)

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