Proof that Argyll’s young folk will do whatever it takes to work is that Laura McMillan, piper with the Grade 1 Inveraray & District Pipe Band is now to be found in Perth, on the Swan River in Western Australia, working in community policing with Western Australia Police [WAPOL] – and playing in their Pipe Band.
She’s loving every minute of it but says that wearing a kilt in 40°C while on band duty takes a bit of getting used to. The band performs at all sorts of events across the vast Western Australia.
Laura, an award winning piper back home here, was invited over to Perth in April 2012 to be a guest player with the WAPOL band for the Australian Pipe Band Championships. They won – and this was when she learned that, towards the end of the year, there would be jobs available with the band. Six months later, In October 2012, she moved over and began working and living in Perth, with the band lined up on the riverside there, below.
Graduating from the Royal Conservatoire (formerly RSAMD) in 2012, what Laura was seeing was that jobs in this country were few and far between.
Determined to work, when she got the opportunity to go to Oz as a Band Officer with the Western Australia Police Pipe Band, she didn’t hesitate – and her father, Jim McMillan, business manager with RBS and a core member of the support team for the Inveraray Band, says she makes more money than her father does back home.
Jim says Laura is basically getting paid for doing what she loves best – playing the pipes.
The WAPOL Band also have to do some civilian police work but Laura has managed to land in a job she also loves in this aspect of her work as well. She’s working with the horses in the stables of the mounted division. When she was younger she used to spend a lot of her time at Argyll Adventure at Dalchenna and loves horses.
Unlike our own police forces in Scotland, WAPOL seems to use their pipe band for community relations in a much more proactive way. They play at all kinds of functions, fundraisers, charity events, funerals etc.
They have recently had a concert and released a CD – and Laura will also be one of the solo pipers playing at a Piping Recital ton 15th June – with Amelia Hewison, Scott Wallace and Jim Murray, the band’s new Pipe Major.
James Murray’s current focus for the band – said to be for now and for the foreseeable future - is to increase the effectiveness of its role in community engagement, through the redevelopment of the band’s concert capacity. Sounds like just the sort of hard work and performance challenge Laura thrives upon.
With a sponsored visa from WAPOL, she can stay and work there until 2017 if she wants and if the job contracts remain the same.
With the Grade 1 Inveraray Pipe Band already started on its 2013 competition campaign, Laura will be seen back here as part of the team later in the summer.
She’s coming back in July and will be part of the much expanded band when they compete in the Scottish Championships at Levengrove in Dumbarton on 27th July; and she’ll be in the line up for the big events in August:
- the Ascension Concert the band is giving at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow
- the Perth [Scotland] Highland Games
- the Grade 1 competition in the World Pipe Band Championships that weekend at Glasgow Green on 17th and 18th August, the first time the world’s will be a two-day event.
After that, Laura’s off back to her other Perth to play with WAPOL at the police graduation or passing-out parade later that week.
The world of the best pipers and drummers is an internationally fluid one. They are in demand to play with bands in pretty well every continent – and indeed several members of the Inveraray band are very familiar with this lifestyle.
Laura McMillan’s ability and her will to get a job after she graduated, combined to provide her with an opportunity at the other side of the world – a challenge not everyone of her age would have risen to unhesitatingly.
We hope to keep you in touch from time to time with her life in piping around Western Australia – and will naturally catch up with her in action in the Inveraray Band when she comes back across the Equator to help in the 2013 campaign for the major championships.
Had it not been for the vision and the endless dedication ever since, that led Inverary & District Pipe Band’s celebrated Pipe Major, Stuart Liddell, to decide to teach young people in the area and try to form a pipe band – the lives of so many of them would have had much narrower horizons than they do now.