SFU Pipe Band lead drummer Reid Maxwell, centrefront, will be recognized in April with a B.C. Community Achievement award.

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SFU Pipe Band lead drummer honoured with B.C. Community Achievement Award

March 27, 2015
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Simon Fraser University Pipe Band lead drummer Reid Maxwell is being honoured with a 2015 British Columbia Community Achievement award, which recognizes and celebrates “the spirit, imagination, dedication and contributions of British Columbians to their communities.”

Maxwell is one of 34 award recipients who will be recognized in a formal presentation ceremony at Government House in Victoria on April 24. Each recipient will receive a certificate and a medallion designed by B.C. artist Robert Davidson.

Maxwell, a Coquitlam resident, is well known and respected worldwide for his excellence in performing and teaching pipe band drumming.

Born in Scotland, he moved to Canada at 20 and was invited to join the SFU band in 1992, after winning the World Pipe Band Championship with Toronto’s 78th Fraser Highland Pipe Band in 1987 (the first time a band outside Scotland won the Worlds).

“A few years later we had that magical run,” recalls Maxwell, referring to SFU’s world champion wins in 1995, 96, 99 and 2001 (the band also won in 2008 and 2009). Under Maxwell, the band’s drum corps has also won the Grade 1 World Drum Corps championship four times.

Maxwell is the world’s only lead drummer to win championships with three different bands (also winning the Worlds with Scotland’s Dysart and Dundonald Pipe Band when he was just 16) and lays claim to a total of 16 world championship titles (band and drumming). He has travelled to Scotland for the world solo drumming championships every year from 1993 to 2013, placing consistently in the top tier, and has won B.C. solo competitions multiple times.

“Reid’s commitment to the province as a whole is exemplary, travelling to teach, adjudicate and perform on Vancouver Island, in the Kootenays and in the Interior,” says band manager Rob MacNeil. “With Pipe Sergeant Jack Lee, Reid established a summer piping and drumming school (in Vernon) that has become the world’s largest.”

Maxwell continues to teach and mentor numerous bands and individual musicians throughout Canada, the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, Northern Ireland and Scotland, as well as SFU’s own junior Robert Malcolm Memorial bands. Under his drumming direction various levels of junior bands have won six world championships, while individual drummers have won world solo championships.

In a 2012 interview from Scotland, Maxwell’s mother Catherine recalled how her son “just loved to be drumming. He was always sporty and liked his football and swimming, he always had to be on the go. But if it was in the house, it was drumming, the whole time.”

In 2010 he was awarded a life membership in the B.C. Pipers’ Association, its highest honour.

Maxwell will be among band members participating in Balding for Boney, which will follow the band’s sold-out Pipe Up for Cancer concert on Mar. 28. The band is raising funds for cancer research in support of SFU piper Andrew Bonar, who has cancer. To donate see: http://at.sfu.ca/JCGCBC

Other 2015 B.C. Community Achievement Award recipients with ties to SFU include:

  • Chris Seguin, an SFU alumnus who worked in development and advancement positions at SFU before becoming vice-president of advancement for Thompson Rivers University;
  • Louis Druehl, a professor emeritus in biological sciences who taught marine biology and spent many years at the Bamfield Marine Station before his retirement. His research has advanced understanding of kelp ecology, evolution and cultivation.