Whangarei and County Pipe Band's long serving drum major Barrie Tinsley has decided the time is right to hang up his competition mace.

Mr Tinsley has served in pipe bands for the last 51 years, 43 of them in the Whangarei and County Pipe Band.

Having begun his pipe band career as a piper with the Fern and Thistle Pipe Band in Masterton in 1963, Barrie has continued his musical contribution in both pipe and drum corps for the Whangarei band.

His family supported his musical endeavours; son Strachan served as the drum sergeant for the band from 1998-2003 and wife Shirley has been something of a "Girl Friday" for the band for many years.

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In 2000, the band accepted an engagement to play at Okara Park for the Scotland v NZ "A" rugby international match. Without a drum major at that time, the band appealed to Mr Tinsley to fill in for this one-off performance, which would require him to prepare the band for a marching display at extremely short notice.

After a successful performance Mr Tinsley found himself voted in as official drum major at the band's annual meeting later that year.

Mr Tinsley has led the band onto the competition arena ever since.

After the band's victory in Grade Three at the New Zealand Championships in March this year, Mr Tinsley decided he would leave the competition scene on a high note.

"Over the past 40 plus years of banding, I consider myself very fortunate to have had the greatest of enjoyment to be able to play music both under and alongside many greatly talented musicians, both local and from overseas, drum major Robert Turner, pipe majors Iain MacDonald, Lewis Turrell MBE, and Ken McLennan to name but a few," he said.

"Not least, my great friend and the Whangarei Band's present musical director, pipe major Bain McGregor.

"I thank them, and all bandsmen for that privilege."

Although we will not see Mr Tinsley in front of the band, his involvement will continue. For years, he has been an organisational powerhouse behind the scenes, often undertaking the lion's share of the administration work required to keep the organisation running.

The Whangarei and County Pipe Band is extremely grateful to Mr Tinsley for his contribution as drum major and very much appreciates his continued involvement as a stalwart of the band committee.