WHEN Sergeant Ian Stewart joined the Scotland police force nearly 18 years ago, he never expected to one day become boss of a pipe band and share the stage with music legends.
After serving the frontline in Glasgow for six years, he moved to Perth and served our frontline for seven more.
Then, five years ago – unexpectedly and with no background in music – he became officer-in-charge of the Maylands-based WA Police Pipe Band.
Away from the harsher side of reality, he now marches to a different beat.
“As a police officer you want to make a difference and that’s why we join in the first place and I’m just doing that in a different way now,” Stewart said.
“It’s nice to see people approaching officers mostly with a smile on their faces.
“Community engagement is what we do best with the pipe band and we use the power of music to show a positive side to policing and to interact with people.”
Although a member of the band – which formed in 1966 and comprises 15 core police members – Stewart doesn’t actually play an instrument.
“My role is to control the band and the tempo we play so I had to learn music, and very quickly, and it took me out of my comfort zone 100 per cent,” he said.
“Not being a musician to begin with, this is not something I thought I would be doing.
“I’ve been on stage with Paul McCartney as well as Jimmy Barnes.”
The band performs at about 250 policing and community engagement concerts each year.
It recently released its 13th album, By the Right, featuring Military Tattoo tunes people know and love such as Amazing Grace (including a calypso version) and Auld Lang Syne.
The album ($10) is available at www.wapol.com.au.