ICONS OF THE HAWTHORN CITY PIPE BAND
Drum Major Robert J. K. Semple B.E.M.
The proud record of success of the Hawthorn City Pipe Band has been built on its unique blend of experience and youth. The most important element in this blend is the extensive experience of the senior members of the Band in top level competition upon which newer members can draw. In the eyes of the public and the pipe band world, no one more clearly typifies the experience as well as the spirit and style, of the Band than its Drum Major, Robert (Bob) Semple B.E.M.
A Life Member of the Hawthorn City Pipe Band, Bob has been involved in the world of pipe bands since 1936, when he joined the Victorian Scottish Regiment - 5th Battalion. At the outbreak of World War II he put aside his pipes and joined 2/12th Australian Field Regiment - 9th Australian Division as an original member of the unit. Between 1940 and 1945 Bob saw service in some of the most active theatres of war; Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, the siege of Tobruk, El Alamein and later in New Guinea and Borneo. The same month Bob returned to Australia he joined the Hawthorn City Pipe Band, after listening to the Band playing in a local park. So began one of the great success stories of the Australian pipe band scene.
Between 1945 and 1961 Bob served as a piper with the Band when the foundations were laid for the great success of the future decades. At the conclusion of his piping career Bob assumed the position of Drum Major of the Band, a position he has continued to hold to this day. As Drum Major, Bob Semple has made an indelible stamp on the character of the Hawthorn City Pipe Band and on the pipe band fraternity as a whole. He has won the Victorian Champions Drum Majors' Title on 24 out of a possible 28 occasions. At the national level he has won the Australian Title no fewer than seven times.
In 1977 Bob Semple was elected principal of the Dress & Drill Panel of the Australian Federation of Pipe Band Associations. He continued to be re-elected until his retirement in 1987. When not competing he is regularly called upon as the most highly regarded Dress & Drill Judge in Australia. In 1983 Bob was awarded the B.E.M. for his services to pipe bands, and in 1990 was the inaugural winner of the Sir Rupert Hamer Perpetual Trophy for outstanding service to the pipe band community.
As the public face of the Band, Bob Semple is, with out doubt, the most instantly recognisable bandsman in Australia today.
Pipe Major Ron Gallagher O.A.M.
Pipe Major Ron Gallacher was a member of the Hawthorn City Pipe Band for 68 years. For many of us, Ron represented the embodiment of all the values, dreams and achievements of the band over many decades.
Over the years, he had been Hawthorn’s Pipe Corporal, Pipe Sergeant, Social Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Vice President, Pipe Tutor, and always a bandsman, but he was best known as Pipe Major of the band. Ron was Pipe Major a number of times; firstly in 1959, 1976 - 86 and and was again P/M in 2002 and 2003. He also acted as Pipe Tutor from 1992-97.
Under Ron's leadership the band won an East Coast Championship, were twice Australian Champions and twice runners up. The band also won 9 out of 10 Victorian Championships and were the first overseas band to go to New Zealand in 1979 and then later winning the New Zealand Championships in 2002 and 2003.
Ron was appointed a judge in 1964. He became Vice Principal of Piping in 1973 - 77. In 1981 he became Principal of Piping and continued in that role for 20 years. He was the tutor of many bands, most particularly, the Melbourne Ladies Pipe Band from its earliest days through to its most successful period as a Grade 1 band. Ron was also a long time tutor of the Geelong Ladies Pipe Band and later the Geelong RSL band. He also assisted many country bands.
In his later years, Ron had a strong relationship with a number of Asian bands, conducting workshops in Singapore and was recognised for his contribution when the Singapore Pipe Band Association appointed him their inaugural Patron.
Ron was a life member of Hawthorn, Melbourne Ladies (2x), the VHPBA and the Australian Pipe Band Association. He was awarded the Sir Rupert Hamer Award for services to the pipe band movement and the City of Melbourne Award. He was honoured with an Order of Australia Medal for which a reference was made to his assistance to the pipe band fraternity.
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