MEMBERS of Selkirk Silver Band did the Borders and Scotland proud at the weekend by recording their highest-ever finish at the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain, writes John Smail.

The 2018 finals were again staged in the Centaur auditorium at Cheltenham Racecourse, and in keeping with their famous equestrian surroundings, it was no surprise Selkirk’s band members played like the true thoroughbreds they are.

Selkirk last reached the UK national finals in 2016, finishing in 10th place.

In the weeks of rehearsal leading up to this year’s contest, it became clear the Selkirk players’ focus was on bettering that 10th placing.

In the draw to decide in what order the 18 competing Section 3 bands would perform the test piece, Episodes for Brass, by Gareth Churcher - Selkirk came out of the hat as the 14th to play.

The long wait to see the Souters take the stage proved worth it for the enthusiastic supporters in the audience, for Selkirk Silver Band’s members gave a typically confident and polished display.

When the full results were finally announced late on Sunday afternoon, Selkirk had indeed improved on its 2016 position by being awarded eighth place.

Bandmaster Colin Kemp said he didn’t think the band could have played the piece any better, while conductor Stuart Black said: “All the soloists played really well, and we did what we came here to do, which was to come off the stage happy.”

Horn player Emma Scott was equally elated: “It was a real team effort, and I’m really chuffed with eighth place.

"The judges decided we’re the eighth-best Section 3 band in the whole of Britain, so what more could you want?”

The adjudicators singled out Selkirk’s soprano cornet player Stuart Kemp for special praise as the band’s ‘star’ player.

Scotland had a total of seven bands competing across the four musical sections - Section 1: Johnstone Silver (3rd), Dunaskin Doon (5th). Section 2: Annan Town (11th), Campeltown Brass (16th). Section 3: Newmains & District (4th), Selkirk Silver (8th). Section 4: Highland (17th), Whitburn Heartlands (withdrawn).

Section 3 final placings - 1, Barnsley Brass; 2, Dronfield Genquip; 3, Market Rasen; 4, Newmains & District; 5, Barton Community; 6, Allerton Brass; 7, Taff Vale Brass; 8, Selkirk Silver; 9, Usk; 10, City of Norwich Brass; 11, Hatherleigh Silver; 12, Bugle Silver; 13, Audley Brass; 14, Eccleston Brass; 15, Knaresborough Silver; 16, Weymouth Concert Brass; 17, Cleobury Mortimer Concert Brass; 18, Chichester City.