The Early Years

Shieldhill Young Defenders Flute Band formed in 1981 with Band practices being held in the Welfare Hall, Main Street, Shieldhill. Those early years proved to be quite a challenge, both in commitment and financially. But for a small village on the outskirts of Falkirk, two Orange Lodges and a flute band was considered to be quite an achievement. Indeed, in one of those early years, kerb stones were painted red, white and blue with the village resembling a protestant enclave of Ulster. But, the culprit was easily identified as the paint stopped outside their back door.

Shieldhill True Blues and Gillespie’s Truth Defenders were among the first suggestions for the name of the new Band before settling with Shieldhill Young Defenders. So, the first week in June 1981, Band practices commenced. To join the Band would cost £1.25 for a junior and £1.50 for a senior, then 25p and 50p respectfully for weekly dues. One young lad resorted to collecting a bag of coal in order to raise his joining fee. His mum stated at the time that “it won’t matter, he’ll get bored and pack it in, in a fortnight”. Well, nearly thirty years on and that lad ‘Gus Henderson’ is still working tirelessly for the Band with the same determination as that first bag of coal.

Members of the Broxburn Loyalists F.B. helped get the Band off the mark then, and by the October of that year the majority of the Band had learnt fifteen tunes, some seven and a half, but it was felt that we were ready. After all, what we lacked in playing ability or marching was more than matched with enthusiasm and determination. The first parade took the Band to Manchester and by the end of it, those fifteen tunes began to sound not too bad. The first set of blue jumpers were purchased for this parade and for some of us, school trousers and shoes doubled as the other half of the uniform. Jumpers cost £4.50 for a wee size and £6.50 for the bigger size. However, torrential rain that day took its toll on our first uniform with the jumpers’ sleeves now trailing along the ground.

Money was hard to come by then, Margaret Thatcher was in charge of the Government and National strikes followed the Falklands conflict with Britain and Argentina at war. But, the Band work hard and a new set of jumpers were purchased. This time we pushed the boat out, not only did our new jumpers have red trims, we also had our first Band badge that had to be sown on to each arm yourself, with varying degrees of success. Another accessory of the day was white gloves, but as already stated money was tight, so a pair of gloves could serve two people with one glove each under your left lapel. Large Balmoral hats shaped to perfection with a wire coat-hanger and a red, white and blue plume provided the finishing touches. Somehow, it didn’t matter that our side-drums were all different colours, we were on the road and the only way from there is ‘Onwards And Upwards’.

On the 10th of November 1981, a young lad with dark curly hair by the name of Davy Taylor travelled seven miles from Stenhousemuir to Shieldhill. It was his twelfth birthday that day and he was determined to join a flute band. There were no distractions of computers, video games and mobile phones for kids in those days.

The young flautist had approached another local band at that time called Redding and Westquarter F.B. However, the lad was disheartened as he was informed that he was too young. This seemed to be a strange decision that allowed older people to join who couldn’t play an instrument, but discouraged youngsters that could play. But, the S.Y.D. did allow him to join. He is more commonly known now as the ‘Band Sergeant’ in charge of providing the musical arrangements for the Band as well as holding office as the Band President.

The Nineties

The nineties started with a new determination and yet another uniform. However, this time the Band chose red and black as their new colours. This uniform was affectionately known as the circus jackets, but people began to sit up and take notice as the Band developed a more military style with ammunition boots and every Band member sporting a number 2 or less haircut. Playing ability, dress, decorum, marching and discipline were constantly improving and it was only a matter of time before the Band would be recognised for its efforts.

The early nineties also saw the loss of one of the Band’s most senior supporters. Sister Sadie Eadie of Camelon and a Past Grand Mistress of Scotland passed away. Sadie was a shining example of the Orange Institute and her memory lives on with us today.

In 1994 and yet another new uniform the Band opted to take a gap year from walking with LLOL74 Airdrie and accepted a booking for Shieldhill Ladies lodge to lead District No. 2, parade around Shieldhill and then onto the main rally in the town of Alloa. The confidence of the Band’s playing ability was so high that one of the side-drummers actually dropped out of the main parade for a short time to go and see about buying a new car. Needless to say, a few stern words from the Band Sergeant has prevented such acts being repeated since. The Band’s performance that day was rewarded with the Band being presented with the trophy from the Rev. William McCrae for the best band on parade from the County of Central Scotland. This achievement also coincided with the Band’s first trip to Ulster. That was one long party!

Since 1994 the Band has paraded with LOL2016 and Gilford District N0.13, Co. Down on the ‘Twelfth of July’. This long standing relationship has taken the Band to such places as Moira, Rathfriland, Newry, Louchbrickland, Lenaderg, Dromore, Banbridge, Dollingstown, Gilford, Dromora, Waringstown, Portadown and Scarva. Friendships have continued to grow over these miles and years.

The nineties saw the Band adding a new dimension with its first bannerette. This now hangs in Gilford District Orange hall. The Band also produced its first C.D. and took part in a T.V. documentary called ‘Football Faith And Flutes’ We also saw the launch of S.Y.D.T.V. with that famous roving reporter ‘Chic Puller’ with his very own style of presenting. This road show usually takes place between the 11th and 13th of July every year although, it is rumoured that the Edinburgh Fringe Festival has tried to book this talented individual. After all, not many presenters can boast about live interviews from the Swedish Ladies Netball Championships.

The New Millenium

The new millennium has seen highs and lows. For example, the Band was given the honour of leading the Scottish Orange Lodges at the parade in London to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Stories are still told of Trafalgar Square erupting to the sound of ‘Rule Britannia’ as the S.Y.D. marched by.

2005-2006 saw the Band come through one of its most difficult years. Like all good marriages, irreconcilable differences are sometimes aired. Some even predicted the S.Y.D. would fold. But, in true ‘No Surrender’ fashion the Band rallied round. A second C.D. was produced in conjunction with Falkirk A.B.O.D. and held a dinner dance for over two hundred invited guests to mark the 25th Anniversary. The Band has been able to achieve this largely due to the financial business sense of our long standing Treasurer ‘Bobby Walker’. It’s also rumoured that the British Treasury now seek to employ his services.

This is by no means the complete story of S.Y.D.F.B., merely the first chapter. The Officers and members of Shieldhill Young Defenders would like to thank all those members who have gave service under the Shieldhill badge over the years and thank all our families, supporters and friends for their continued support.

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