IT was grand, and heartening to note one of the biggest gatherings for a Remembrance Sunday ceremony which Skipton has ever known. Certainly, since the 1940s era when I first attended.

Amongst it all, top marks to Skipton Brass for sitting, frozen in the churchyard playing hymns in unwelcoming Arctic climatic conditions. But again I personally accord top marks with distinction to the teenage pipes and drums duo, John and James Brown whom many would rate as the best exports ever to come out of Scotland, including whisky.

Natives of Galashiels where I formerly competed, athletics-wise, at the popular Galashiels Braw Lads gathering, the Brown boys have certainly set Skipton alight since their arrival in Skipton’s homely habitat.

Resident, like myself, up Shortbank, I first became aware of their talents and invited them to join myself bellowing with the loud hailer, while circumventing the Shortbank housing estate and bringing everyone out to their doorsteps for the eight-weekly cycle of “Clap the Carers”. And, the Brown twins certainly proved themselves a star attraction.

And, from there on, the “Shortbank Braw Lads” - as I have affectionately regaled them - have availed themselves at a variety of events, predominantly on behalf of local charities, particularly regaling the throngs outside local pubs and eateries. Also, one particularly poignant occasion. That being for the nationally prescribed “minute silence” on the Sunday evening following the passing of Her Majesty the Queen.

Not everyone’s preference, but I personally find it aspiring to note a pipes and drum band - albeit only two on this occasion - leading any town centre parade. And their presence, including their part around the “two minutes silence” on Remembrance Sunday evoked revered memories of some of those glorious Skipton Gala processions of the 1980s, by the Lunesdale Pipe Band. The Pipe major of whom was then the familiar figure of Len Henson sporting a black patch over one eye.

A hitherto great War hero, Len, - besides more mundane involvements - had been much appreciated in playing the pipes to help inspire and fire up the troops at the Normandy D Day landings. Sadly however, as most people recognise, the Second World War was not the ultimate saviour of future mankind. For, Len’s son Malcolm - a good pal of mine, and with absolutely no connection to any military, political or religious factions, would subsequently be blown up by the IRA via a roadside bomb which was intended for someone else.

Just one chilling reminder that peace has yet to fully materialise since 1945, as mentioned at Sunday’s Remembrance ceremony.

Meantime “well played” once more to the Brown duo, and “good luck” as they eventually head for a hopefully fulfilling career in the Scots Guards.

Roger Ingham