awards, charities, community, Culture

Honour for UNISON Kinneil Band

UNISON Kinneil Band has been honoured for its work in its hometown of Bo’ness.

The Band has been awarded the McLaren Trophy for 2020.

The award is presented annually by Bo’ness Community Council to honour a person or group for outstanding services to the local area. The award is named after the late John McLaren, a reporter on the Linlithgowshire Journal and Gazette and the first-ever secretary of the Community Council.

Band president Brian Holmes said his group was “delighted and humbled” to receive the Trophy.

He said: “Looking at the list of previous individuals and groups who have received this award we are indeed in good company.”

The band was founded in 1858 by miners at Kinneil Pit and the Wilson’s Kinneil Iron Works. When Kinneil Colliery closed in 1983, the band played on – supported by the public sector union NUPE, which later became UNISON.

The musical group has won many awards over the years and is a regular fixture at community events, including Bo’ness Fair. However, in June 2019 the Band was devastated when a fire at Bo’ness United’s ground spread to its band hall on Linlithgow Road, seriously damaging the building, destroying instruments and band property inside.

Mr Holmes said: “The band’s journey from last year to now has been both challenging and rewarding.”

He said the band received “unbelievable support” after the 2019 fire and went on to continue to earn success in British and Scottish band competitions. The band is the current 1st Section Champion of Great Britain. It also won the Scottish Shield 2019.

Since the Covid-19 lockdown, band members have been rehearsing at home and keeping in touch through Zoom web chats. “There are no plans, as yet, to resume normal band life,” said Mr Holmes.

The Community Council selected the band for the McLaren honour earlier this year. Because of social distancing restrictions, a reception for the group has been put on hold “but will happen at a later date”. This will involve band members and the McLaren family.

In the meantime, Community Council chair Madelene Hunt and her vice-chair Len Ainslie have handed over the McLaren Trophy and a certificate at a “socially distant” photocall. Appropriately, it was held at the town’s mining memorial to recognise the band’s mining roots.

Mrs Hunt said: “I was delighted to present the McLaren Trophy cup to UNISON Kinneil Band. There’s also a certificate which the band gets to keep. It’s been a pleasure listening to the band over the years and I thank them for all their work they do. They bring a lot of pleasure to the people of Bo’ness.”

Brian Holmes and Robert Doherty from UNISON Kinneil Band celebrate the band’s success winning the 2020 McLaren Trophy from Bo’ness Community Council.

Brian Holmes and Robert Doherty from UNISON Kinneil Band celebrate the band’s success winning the 2020 McLaren Trophy from Bo’ness Community Council.

Band members with Maria Ford and her husband Jim at Bo’ness Fair Day in 2018. Mrs Ford was crowning the Fair Queen.

One from the archives . . . The band have been active in Bo’ness since the 1850s.

> Visit the Band’s website