AFTER a stirring performance at Lochore Meadows on Saturday, the Lochgelly High School Pipe Band are heading for the Highlands with more glory in their sights.

They recently won the UK Championships in Northern Ireland and will head to Inverness on Saturday for the European championships, before leading the Benarty Gala parade the following day.

And at the Meedies on Saturday the LHS band collected more successes.

Lochgelly are no strangers to success and their fame has spread far and wide as the band's music instructor, Tom Brown, explained.

He said: "There are five main championships every year, the Scottish, British, UK, Worlds and European, and we've won all of them.

"They also have a points allocation across the contests, to pick a champion of champions, and we've been awarded that probably 15 times.

"In pipe band circles, the name of Lochgelly is internationally recognised everywhere as a centre of excellence.

"We have ex-pupils in grade 1 bands in Canada, Australia and the USA – they have huge piping traditions in these countries – that have gone onto very successful pipe band careers."

Asked for the secrets of their success, he said: "We have a young pipe major, Keith Robertson, and I think it's the musicality that stands out.

"It's how they interpret and present the music. The band have to play a selection of tunes from a pre-prescribed list and we have to pick four pieces that fit with the drums and the overall ensemble effect.

"At championships these youngsters will get a chance to perform in front of 5,000 people, it's a huge adrenaline buzz for them.

"And when you go to the worlds, if the weather's fine there could be 40,000 people watching.

"This year it's in Glasgow Green in August, before the schools come back, so they'll be giving up some of their holidays to practice.

"They are ambassadors and they want to go the extra mile as they know they're representing the community and the area."

However, it can be a struggle financially and Tom said: "We did the overnight trip to Northern Ireland and back the next day as it was cheaper to do that. If we'd stayed over you wouldn't get change out of £5,000.

"So the kids did fundraising to cover the cost of the coach and ferry and we'll be up and down the same day for Inverness. That'll be another 5am start!"

The band discovered they'd become UK champions on the ferry back home and he said: "That was fantastic that the Stena guys linked them up to it.

"You can get live streaming of all the major championships now and all the timings are put out in advance so you know when your favourite band is on.

"People tune in from across the world but there's nothing better than being there."

The competition season is their busiest time of the year and Tom said: "We've got two bands, a competition band that we're talking about just now, and a young junior band, so there are 40 kids in total from S1 to S6.

"It's quite a commitment, we'll practise two evenings a week for two hours at a time, and it'll be up to three times a week before the competitions.

"We'll do 10 competitions, we've got Benarty Gala on Sunday and we do some others too, as well as primary school concerts, leavers concerts, it's a very busy time just now.

"It's all year round really. When we finish at the end of August it's not long til you're into Remembrance parades, Christmas concerts and other school activities."

Lochore born and bred, Tom has been teaching the pipes for 45 years, starting at Ballingry Junior High School in the 1970s.

He said: "I just took an interest in it. I started when I was 11 and that's about 54 years ago now!

"As well as my job with Fife Council, I have other roles in the pipe band world, I'm an adjudicator with the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association and an examiner with the Piping and Drumming Qualifications Board.

"I'm immersed in it, it's a lifestyle for me. My son, Paul, is a drumming instructor here too."

He added: "I travel regularly and do teaching seminars in places like Germany, Holland, Belgium and France. Piping is also big in places like Argentina, South America, Hong Kong, where there's been a military link.

"Basically, everywhere in the world the Scots have gone, we've taken the pipes with us!"