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Sarah at the Sherriff: Sarah Simpson shares her experince at the 2012 George Sherriff Memorial Amateur Invitational Solo Piping Competition

Hi ACPBA Members,

I’m Sarah Simpson, a member of The College of Piping grade 3 pipe band. In November I traveled to Hamilton, Ontario, to take part in the 17th annual George Sherriff Memorial Amateur Invitational Solo Piping Competition. This competition showcases ten amateur soloists from across North America, nominated by their home associations. I was honoured to participate as a representative of the Atlantic Canada Pipe Band Association. Ever since I was first aware of The Sherriff, it was a goal of mine to someday play at it.

It was really exciting when I got the invite from Bob Worrall, who puts a ton of work in to organize and facilitate this event. I was at The Northern Meeting in Inverness, just taking a break between listening to awesome piobaireachds at the time. Bob didn't have my contact information, so he sent the invitation to my piping instructors, James and Kylie MacHattie. We were all sitting together in the lobby of Eden Court Theatre when the e-mail came. That day is one of my favourite from my summer in Europe; not only did I spend the day listening to tunes from the best of the best, my goal of someday playing at The Sherriff came true.

The competition day was really exciting. I flew in to Toronto late the night before, where my friend and fellow competitor Dylan Whittemore picked me up at the airport. I spent the weekend with Dylan and his family; I really appreciate their hospitality and generosity! The day of the competition was surprisingly calm, definitely because Bob runs it so well. It was really nice to get to know the other competitors; everyone was really welcoming and helpful.

We played 6/8 marches in the morning, had pizza for lunch, played piobaireachds in the afternoon, went out for a nice supper then played MSR’s in the evening. The judges were Andy Rogers, Michael Gray and Willie Morrison. I had a good play in the piobaireachd playing Corrienessan’s Salute and was awarded third place! I was really happy to place in an event, especially since everyone played really well and it could have been anyone’s game. The sheets from all three judges were well written and constructive. They even took the time to provide feedback after the presentation of the awards, which I found very helpful. Callum Harper came out on top, with a first in the 6/8’s and MSR, and fourth in the piobaireachd, winning a sweet set of pipes and prize money to go towards travel to Scotland. I heard his MSR and it was stellar!

I’d like to thank a bunch of people, who each contributed to make my weekend possible:

  • Mom and Dad- A big thanks to my mom, Susan, and dad, Bruce. They put up with me practicing for the past 11 years, drove me to countless band practices, recitals and gigs. Without them, I wouldn't even have started piping. Thanks mum and dad!
  • The staff and faculty of The College of Piping- The College is an amazing, one of a kind facility thanks to the people who work and volunteer there. Thanks for your continued support and encouragement.
  • Doug and Debbie Hall-Doug and Debbie are the most generous people on this planet. They have a scholarship program in place which sponsors all Island youth who wish to learn Highland piping and Scottish snare drumming. They have made it possible for hundreds of Island kids to explore traditional Scottish culture while learning to appreciate music and making lifelong friends. You guys rock.
  • Bob Worrall- This event runs so smoothly because of Bob. It’s really evident how much he enjoys this event; he really puts his heart in to it. Thanks Bob!
  • The ACPBA- Without the hard work of the ACPBA, there would be no competitions, no judges, and no highland games. They really promote and advance Scottish culture in the Maritime Provinces and provide awesome opportunities for us pipers and drummers. Thank you!

I had a really awesome weekend at The Sherriff, where I made new piping friends, played good tunes and had a blast! I’m really proud to have represented the ACPBA and The College of Piping at such a prestigious event. Thanks, everyone for taking the time to read my post!

 Sarah accepting her awards for 2012 Grade 1 Overall Champion Supreme and Grade 1 Piobaireachd from Chief Steward Rick Crawford (l) and ACPBA President David Kershaw (r)

Sarah accepting her awards for 2012 Grade 1 Overall Champion Supreme and Grade 1 Piobaireachd from Chief Steward Rick Crawford (l) and ACPBA President David Kershaw (r)