Scottish musician recalls special gift from his hometown of Kirkcaldy 60 years ago
One of Scotland’s best trumpet and cornet players has been marking 60 years since he was given a special gift by Kirkcaldy Town Council - before embarking on a professional career in music.
On April 29, 1961, Brian Rankine was presented with a specially-engraved gold watch by Kirkcaldy Town Council in recognition of his outstanding success as a cornet player in national competitions.
He achieved a number of accolades including being a junior and senior champion soloist of Great Britain, a Scottish champion and Terris medal winner – and went on to enjoy a fantastic professional career with some of the world’s finest musicians.
Brian, who is originally from Kirkcaldy, said he started playing the cornet at the age of 7 when he joined Dysart Colliery Band in 1954.
He said: “I was there for a few years until I was 12 and then I joined the Barry, Ostlere and Shepherd Brass Band – which was one of the top bands in Scotland.
“I became the principal cornet, and I was in the band for the next few years until the factory closed in 1964/65. At the age of 15 I was accepted to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music in Glasgow – I learned to play trumpet at the academy.”
He explained why he was presented with the gold watch: “I won a few competitions when I was a young – I was a junior champion of Fife, West of Scotland champion and Scottish champion,” he said.
"I won the junior and the senior competitions and the British Junior Championships, I won this five years in a row until I was 17. I was also British solo champion.
"I was given the watch for winning those contests in Scotland and the British championship when I was 14 in 1961.
"It was quite something going to the presentation at the town house by Kirkcaldy Town Council – I went with my parents, John Faulds, the Barry Ostlere and Shepherd band conductor was also there and Provost Gourlay presented me with the watch.
"I remember meeting one of my football heroes who played for Raith Rovers, Johnny Urquhart at the reception afterwards. I was telling him I played for the school football team at Templehall Secondary and he said: “Don’t you think that cornet playing and football is a bad combination?”
Brian (74), who now lives in Buckinghamshire, graduated from the Academy and got a job with the BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra and became a professional trumpet player. He then moved to Birmingham with the BBC Midland Light Orchestra and later to London with the BBC Radio Orchestra. He was also a member of the BBC Big Band and retired four years ago.
Brian, who donated his cornet, Barry’s band uniform and a few photographs to Kirkcaldy Museum, added: “I remember playing in the Burma and Raith ballrooms in Kirkcaldy when I was a student and playing with the band in the Ravenscraig and Beveridge Parks.
"My grandfather along with my father and three uncles were also all in the same brass band and my two brothers were also members of bands. I have many fond memories of Kirkcaldy.”