Andrew Bunyan is stepping down after almost a quarter of a century as the Pipe Major of Selkirk Pipe Band.
The Selkirk stonemason, who turns 50 this year, has led the town’s pipers at annual Common Ridings and Remembrance Sundays for the past 23 years, and has now retired for family commitments.
Piping is a family affair for the Bunyans. Andrew began in the band aged 14, and took over as Pipe Major in 1991 from his father David. Andrew is, in fact, the third generation of his family to don the feather bonnet and spats: his grandfather James also served as Pipe Major, and was one of Selkirk Pipe Band’s first members when it started in 1925.
But Andrew will still be there playing alongside his piping daughter Julie, who is training to become a teacher at Edinburgh University, and his drummer nephew David Richardson.
“It takes that family system to run a band in a community,” he reflected.
Andrew has come a long way in his 36 years in the band so far. When he piped in his first Selkirk Common Riding, he admitted he only knew a few tunes, but now he has a repetoire of hundreds if not thousands of songs.
Andrew also plans to continue piping beside Julie in the City of Edinburgh Pipe Band.
He explained: “I want to do some more competing, and teaching the next generation.
“I’m teaching 12 to 13 kids through the High School, and there should be six ready for the Common Riding – if they practice.”
Andrew began teaching early, aged 16, before enrolling a year later in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, 1st Battalion – for nine years as an infantry soldier and a piper, notably playing solo for the Queen’s birthday at London’s Horse Guards Parade in 1986, and for military tattoos around Europe.
The band held a surprise party for him at the Heatherlie House Hotel last weekend.
“I was fair chuffed,” he told The Wee Paper.
“It’s a social band,” he said: “when I was in charge, I wanted people to enjoy themselves, and not feel the pressure of competing.”
But now he’s not in charge, he said: “I’ll just stand and enjoy myself.”
Andrew’s successor is yet to be announced.