The mood is bittersweet at the North Okanagan Pipes and Drums.
The Vernon-based pipe band is saying goodbye to Owen Cussveller, a young member who has excelled as a bagpiper since joining in the summer of 2015, and who’s now leaving the flock as he heads to the University of Victoria.
While training on the bagpipes, Cussveller was the heartbeat of the band. He filled in as the bass drummer, keeping the beat for the band in parades, concerts and performances until he became proficient on the pipes.
Cussveller quickly became one of the band’s best pipers – and was always one of its most reliable members, attending nearly every practice in his four years with Pipes and Drums. That includes a trip last June to Couer d’Alene in Idaho.
Pipes and Drums supplied Cussveller with a set of bagpipes that were donated to the group – which they were saving for a young and talented prospect, such as he proved himself to be.
“The band refurbished the pipes and Owen has made everyone proud of his accomplishments,” said Pipe Major Don MacLeod.
“Cussveller was not just an exemplary member of the pipe band but was also a cadet at the local army camp winning awards and commendations.”
Fortunately, Cussveller’s mark on the band is by no means erased by his departure to school; he introduced his brother to the band a year and a half into his time there, and passed down to him the role of bass drummer. And Cussveller will be back with the band next summer before heading back to school.
“Owen will be sorely missed this Winter but the band all wishes him nothing but success,” says MacLeod.
A recent graduate of Fuller Secondary School, Cussveller’s future is wide open. He’s set to take general studies in Victoria and has a few directions he’s thinking of pursuing.
Pipes and Drums is always keen to welcome new members, and those interested in the family-oriented band and its youth program can contact MacLeod at 250-260-1001.
The band practices at Knox Presbyterian Church 3701 32nd Ave in Vernon every Wednesday evening at 6 p.m.