Queen honours Markinch piper

Pipe Major Jim Banks from Markinch has just been awarded the M.B.E for services to Piping and the local Community. Picture by Steven Brown Photography.

Pipe Major Jim Banks from Markinch has just been awarded the M.B.E for services to Piping and the local Community. Picture by Steven Brown Photography.

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A Markinch piper who has dedicated his life to playing and teaching the bagpipes has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Honours List.

Jim (James) Banks, 69, received the Member of the British Empire for services to bagpiping and voluntary service in Scotland.

His professional and voluntary contribution to bagpiping, youth development and veterans’ support is a remarkable example of outstanding achievement and selfless service.

From 1964 until 1987 he served his country in the army, and rose to the top of his profession.

“I always wanted to be a piper in the army and was glad to join the Scots Guards,” Mr Banks said. “I have spent a lot of years piping, once you’re hooked on it, that’s it! It has taken me all over the world and when I retired I realised it was time to give back to others.”

Born in Cardenden, Jim was taught to play by his grandfather Jimmy Herd, founder of the Bowhill Colliery and District Pipe Band and now continues to provide free tuition to numerous piping students in Fife.

Since his retirement in 2005, he has devoted his time to an incredible amount of voluntary service and was shocked to receive a letter with the award in November. “You are sworn to secrecy, so I couldn’t tell anyone until it was officially announced and I still don’t know who nominated me!”

He has been an exceptionally active and energetic promoter of youth piping in Fife, and beyond, in particular organising and running competitions to encourage young pipers to develop their skill. In 2000, he was offered the position of Head of Piping Studies for the new BA Scottish Music Piping Degree. His voluntary work also includes acting as the Chair of the Scots Guards Club, and Pipe Major for the Scots Guards Association, together with which he has also raised a significant amount of money for military charities.

Mr Banks also founded the Dan Air Pipe Band, as well as beginning a long association with the National Piping Centre.