PUPILS and staff at St Columba’s School in Kilmacolm are celebrating after bagging a top prize at the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships.

The top team were congratulated by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who attended the event.

The band claimed glory in the Junior B category, seeing off competition from 17 other schools to take the Winners Shield and a cheque for £500.

They performed Captain Norman Or Ewing, Greenwood Side, Donald MacLean’s Farewell to Oban and The Earl of Mansfield.

Mick McLaughlin, depute rector, said: “We are thrilled by the success of the school’s pipe band at the championships. 

“Our musicians and their instructors, Mr Bruce and Mr Nelson, have worked especially hard in the lead up to the competition, with before-school rehearsals taking place throughout the last month.”

More than 700 young pipers and drummers entered the competition, held at Inveralmond Community High School in West Lothian on Sunday.

David Johnston, championship committee chair, said: “We are incredibly impressed by the young musicians who took part.

“The level of playing throughout the day was very high and it was particularly pleasing to see so many schools represented for the first time at this year’s event. 

“The whole purpose of this event is to encourage the formation of pipe bands in schools and to put our national instruments on a par with other music provision in the classroom.”

The competition rounded off a very successful few weeks for pipers and chanter players at St Columba’s, as pupils also excelled in the annual National Piping Centre’s junior solo competition in Glasgow.

Around 90 pupils are involved in St Columba’s School’s piping and drumming programme and the band plays at all major school occasions as well as many local community events.