Category Archives: General

Chris Duncan resigns as Chairman of Vale

Chris Duncan has resigned as Chairman of the Vale of Atholl. Her resignation is effective immediately. Chris, the wife of Pipe Major Ian Duncan and the Vale Grade 3 band’s bass drummer, was appointed Chairman at the organisation’s AGM in March. She was the Vale’s third Chairman within 12 months.
Honorary President, Alister Walker, said: “It is my view that the Vale of Atholl Pipers Association will successfully overcome the issues that it currently faces but the journey of success is not going to be easy

Condolences to the family of Eilidh MacLeod (14) from Barra who was one of the 22 people murdered by Islamic terrorists in Manchester on Monday night at the Ariana Grande pop concert. Eilidh was a promising piper. Fois Shioraidh thoir dhi.

Here she is playing a few years ago for an incoming ferry at Castlebay with her friends (Eilidh is on the left):

Pipers and drummers are being asked to contact Manchester Community Pipe Band regarding a massed band gathering as a show of support and respect to everyone effected by the heinous events of Monday night. The event will take place on Sunday, 4th June in Manchester city centre at noon. Telephone Colin on 07815 284697.

The first major highland games event of the season, the Atholl Gathering, takes place this Sunday. Given the numbers and quality of pipers entering this year, it promises to be a memorable competition. The weather at last year’s event was glorious and the forecast for this Sunday is pleasant. Craig Sutherland from Crieff was the overall winner at last year’s Atholl Gathering.

Euan Anderson and Alan Forbes judging Andrew Wright from Dundee at the 2016 Atholl Gathering. Wright won the B Grade Piobaireachd.

The origins of the Atholl Gathering lie in the gathering that had been held at Bridge of Tilt since 1825. After visiting the Eglinton Tournament in 1840, the 6th Duke of Atholl decided to move the ‘Tilt Meeting’, to nearby Blair Castle. The reason for this was to commemorate the presentation of the Queen’s Colours to the Atholl Highlanders, his personal regiment. The Colours, were Queen Victoria’s ‘thank you’ to the local men who provided a guard during her stay at the castle the previous year.

The Gathering continued in the grounds of the castle until the outbreak of the First World War. In 1966 the 10th Duke revived the Atholl Highlanders but it wasn’t until 1984 that he reinstated the Atholl Gathering.

Butter Fingers

Corinne Hutton presents the Grade 1 trophy to Pipe Major Stuart Liddell.

Corinne Hutton presents the Grade 1 winners' trophy to Inveraray Pipe Major, Stuart Liddell.

Inveraray & District Pipe Band won the first ‘major’ of the season. The band, under the leadership of Stuart Liddell and Steven McWhirter, was placed second in drumming, and first and second in piping by the two piping judges.

It was a day of extremely changeable weather at the exposed St James Playing Field, Paisley, and one which proved too challenging for many bands across the grades. Once again, the suitability of the venue – far too exposed and too close to the M8 motorway and Glasgow Airport – was given a unanimous thumbs down from bands. The inappropriateness of this venue may also be the reason why virtually no Paisley punters bothered to go – this despite entry being free and the council laying on free transport from the centre of the town. Paisley has the British next year, too. The RSPBA needs to have a word with the council about this terrible venue.

Take off!

Take off!

It was a disappointing contest for Simon Fraser University Pipe Band who finished 12th. The band sounded very impressive in the tuning area but didn't sustain it in the arena–  something that also affected new band, The City of London in Grade 2.
 Newly promoted Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), Buchan Peterson and Johnstone gave a good account of themselves in Grade 1 but with the exception of PSNI, the gap between them and other Grade 1 bands was noticeable on the day.

The next ‘major’ is the United Kingdom Championships on June 10 in Belfast.

Grade 1 – 1. Inveraray & District; 2. Field Marshal Montgomery; 3. Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia; 4. St. Laurence O’Toole; 5. Police Scotland Fife; 6. ScottishPower.
Judges: John Connor and Colin Moffett, (piping); Sandy Russell (drumming); Cameron Edgar (ensemble).
Grade 2 – 1. Lomond & Clyde; 2. Glasgow Skye Association; 3. MacKenzie Caledonian; 4. Balagan (ensemble preference); 5. Closkelt; 6. Bucksburn & District.
Judges: Harry Stevenson and Jim Wark (piping); Stuart Coils (drumming); Paul Turner (ensemble).
Grade 3A – 1. 2622 (Highland) Squadron R.A.F (ensemble preference); 2. Royal Burgh of Stirling; 3. Vale of Atholl; 4. Kintyre Schools; 5. Wallacestone and District; 6. City of Inverness (ensemble preference)
Judges: Ronnie McShannon and Alvis Kerr (piping); Paul Brown (drumming); Ciaran Mordaunt (ensemble).
Grade 3B – 1. Royal Burgh of Annan; 2. Quinn Memorial; 3. Bothwell Castle; 4. The Highlanders (4 Scots); 5. Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service; 6. Lanark and District.
Judges – Thomas Brown and Donald MacPhee (piping); Lee Innes (drumming); James Campbell (ensemble).
Juvenile – 1. Dollar Academy; 2. George Heriot's School; 3. George Watson's College; 4. North Lanarkshire Schools; 5. West Lothian Schools; 6. Preston Lodge High School.
Judges: John Connor and Colin Moffett; Alexander Russell (drumming); Cameron Edgar (ensemble).
Grade 4A – 1. Denny and Dunipace; 2. Bowhill and District (ensemble preference); 3. Johnstone; 4. Kinross and District; 5. Glenrothes and District (ensemble preference); 6. Lochryan.
Judges: Ronnie McShannon and Alvis Kerr (piping); Paul Brown (drumming); Ciaran Mordaunt (ensemble).
Grade 4B – 1. Lisnamulligan; 2. Sgt. Walker Memorial; 3. Kelty and Blairadam (ensemble preference); 4. Davidson's Mains and District; 5. Vale of Atholl; 6. Hawick.
Judges: Peter Hunt and John Moles; 2. Gregory Dinsdale (drumming); 3. Peter Snaddon QVRM (ensemble).

Butter Fingers

Eva Bolander with Deputy Lord Provost, Philip Braat.

Eva Bolander pictured with her Deputy Lord Provost, Philip Braat.

Glasgow’s first piping Provost

Eva Bolander has become the first piper – and European Union national – to become Lord Provost of Glasgow. Ms Bolander was elected as an SNP councillor for the Anderston/City ward in the 2015 local elections. She held her seat in the recent elections and has now been voted in as Lord Provost. She is also now the city’s first SNP Lord Provost, taking over from take over from Labour’s Sadie Docherty, who stood down before the election.

In her new position, Ms Bolander will also be the Lord Lieutenant of Glasgow which means she is the Queen’s official representative in the city.

Ms Bolander first learned to play the pipes in 1978 with the Thistle Pipe Band in Stockholm but soon changed over to the Stockholm Caledonian Pipe Band who were somewhat more welcoming to female pipers. She said: “There I was tutored by Alan Logan, an ex-Scots Guards piper, who was then permanently living in Stockholm. Another big inspiration and teacher for us Scandinavians was P.M. Bob Kilgour, also ex-Scots Guards, who lived in Copenhagen.

“The Stockholm Caledonian Pipe Band competed in Grade 4 at the World Pipe Band Championships a number of times, and I most clearly remember 1990 when we were also asked to perform in the Winter Gardens of the People's Palace. This was the Year of Culture. The band did not have any major successes in the competitions in Scotland but for us Swedes it was the experience of just taking part that counted then."

“My first visit to Scotland was in 1980 when we came across to Glasgow and visited the College of Piping to buy reeds and music. I continued to visit Scotland almost every summer in the early 1980s. One year, possibly 1982, I attended a summer school at Stirling University where, amongst other prominent pipers, Andrew Wright introduced me to pibroch. I’m sorry, to say I never advanced my playing to any prominence, though some of my fellow students certainly did.

"I still enjoy listening to ceol mor and occasionally try to attend the Northern Meeting and Glenfiddich piping competition."

Ms Bolander is looking forward to attending the World Pipe Band Championships in August.

Lachie-DickLachie Dick, left, has resigned as Pipe Major of the Grade 2 City of Edinburgh Pipe Band. Dick, who had been in post for less than a year having taken over from Barry Donaldson, cited work commitments – he works as a junior doctor – as the reason for his departure. He will remain with the band, however, and will be a 'guest' player with Danish pipe band, Balagan at a couple of contests this season.

Band secretary, Paul White, said: "While we hope that Lachie will play a leading role in our band for many years to come, we are now seeking a new Pipe Major who can drive the band forward in our 70th anniversary year and beyond.

"While the band has an open mind on the experience and track record of candidates for the Pipe Major’s role, the following qualities are desirable:

  • The ability to make the band a consistently competitive force in Grade 2;
  • The ambition to make the band the destination of choice for pipers and drummers who live, study or work in Edinburgh and the surrounding area;
  • A commitment to youth development, with connections which enable the development of a talent pool which the band can draw upon;
  • A clear vision for what s/he would like the band to achieve in the short-to-medium term.
The City of Edinburgh Pipe Band competing at the Worlds in 2014.

The City of Edinburgh Pipe Band competing at the Worlds in 2014.

"We have no fixed ideas on who will lead the band during the next phase of its proud history, but we look forward to finding out who the right person is and what they can offer."

Candidates who wish to discuss the opportunity informally are invited to contact Paul on 07941 679015, while expressions of interest should be submitted to no later than June 30, 2017. All enquiries will be treated in strict confidence.

The band will not compete this season but will use this period to rebuild. At the end of the current season, the band will announce a special event to mark its 70th anniversary.

Here at the summaries from last weekend's pipe band competitions:

Ards and North Down Championships, Bangor, Northern Ireland, May 13


Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band

Grade 1 – 1. Field Marshal Montgomery; 2. Vale of Atholl; 3. Police Service of Northern Ireland; 4. Bleary and District.
Grade 2 – 1. Manorcunningham; 2. Closkelt.
Grade 3A – 1. New Ross & District; 2. Drumlough; 3. Marlacoo & District (ensemble preference); 4. Mat Boyd Memorial.
Grade 3B – 1. Battlehill; 2. Major Sinclair Memorial; 3. Quinn Memorial.
Grade 4A – 1. St Mary's Derrytrasna; 2. Cullybackey; 3. Cloughfin (ensemble preference); 4. Tullylagan.
Grade 4B – 1. Gransha; 2. Kildoag; 3. Ballyboley; 4. Ballydonaghy; 5. Sgt. Walker Memorial.

Dunbar Highland Games, May 13

Grade 1 – 1. Police Scotland Fife; 2. Grampian Police Scotland.
Grade 2 – 1. Grampian Police Scotland; 2. George Heriot's School; 3. George Watson's College; 4. Royal Burgh of Stirling; 5. Scottish Fire and Rescue Services Pipe Band; 6. Wallacestone and District
Grade 3 – 1. Wallacestone and District; 2. Royal Burgh of Annan; 3. Prestonpans Royal British Legion; 4. The Highlanders (4 Scots); 5. Royal Burgh of Stirling; 6. Coalburn I.O.R. (B).
Grade 4 – 1. Queen Victoria School (ensemble preference); 2. Stow Borders Pipe Band; 3. Stockbridge; 4. Camelon and District; 5. Kelty and Blairadam (ensemble preference); 6. Preston Lodge High School Pipe Band.
Grade 4A – 1. Denny and Dunipace Gleneagles; 2. Dunbar Royal British Legion; 3. Kelty and Blairadam; 4. Royal Burgh of Stirling; 5. Tweedvale; 6. Camelon and District.
Juvenile – 1. George Heriot's School Juv; 2. George Watson's College; 3. Preston Lodge High School; 4. George Heriot's School Nov A; 5. Peoples Ford Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia.
Novice Juvenile A – 1. George Heriot's School; 2. George Watson's College; 3. Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia.

Gourock Highland Games, May 14

Grade 1 – 1. Inveraray and District (ensemble preference); 2. Scottish Power; 3. Johnstone; 4. Glasgow Skye Association.
Grade 2 – 1. The Glasgow Skye Association; 2. Dumbarton and District; 3. Bothwell Castle; 4. Lochryan
Grade 3 – 1. Lochryan (ensemble preference); 2. Lanark and District; 3. Bothwell Castle; 4. Irvine and District; 5. Milngavie.
Grade 4 – 1. Johnstone; 2. Lower Clyde Pipes and Drums; 3. Williamwood; 4. Strathendrick; 5. Dunoon Argyll; 6. Uddingston Strathclyde (ensemble preference).
Juvenile – 1. 1st Troon Boys Brigade; 2. Dumbarton and District.
Novice Juvenile A – 1. Oban High School; 2. 1st Troon Boys Brigade; 3. Dunoon Grammar School.
Novice Juvenile B – 1. Oban High School; 2. Dumbarton and District; 3. Renfrewshire Schools.

Dundee City Outdoor Full Band Contest, May 14

MacKenzie Caledonian Pipe Band

MacKenzie Caledonian Pipe Band

Grade 2 – 1. Mackenzie Caledonian (ensemble preference); 2. City of Discovery; 3. Methil and District.
Grade 3 – 1. R.A.F. Central Scotland Pipes and Drums; 2. Bowhill and District; 3. Methil and District.
Grade 4A – 1. Dollar Academy; 2. Bowhill and District; 3. Perth and District; 4. R.A.F. Central Scotland Pipes and Drums; 5. Kinross and District; 6. Kelty and Blairadam.
Grade 4B – 1. Kelty and Blairadam; 2. Mackenzie Caledonian Juvenile; 3. Badenoch and Strathspey (ensemble preference); 4. Coupar Angus Burgh; 5. Dollar Academy; 6. City of St. Andrews.


Banchory Highland Games, May 14

Grade 1 – 1. Buchan Peterson (ensemble preference); 2. Grampian Police Scotland.
Grade 2 – 1. Grampian Police Scotland; 2. Portlethen and District; 3. Deeside Caledonia; 4. 2622 (Highland) Squadron R.A.F.
Grade 3 – 1. Portlethen and District; 2. Deeside Caledonia (ensemble preference); 3. 2622 (Highland) Squadron R.A.F. (ensemble preference); 4. Turriff and District; 5. R.A.F. Lossiemouth (ensemble preference); 6. Fraserburgh Royal British Legion.
Grade 4 – 1. Fraserburgh Royal British Legion; 2. Grampian District Pipes and Drums; 3. 2622 (Highland) Squadron R.A.F.; 4. Elgin and District; 5. Culter and District; 6. Granite City.

Dugald with Glasgow's outgoing Lord Provost, Sadie Docherty.

Dugald with Glasgow's outgoing Lord Provost, Sadie Docherty.

We are rightly applauding a senior citizen on his retirement. What a great example he has set over 70+ years of service. He has more than done his bit. He has done us proud.

Prince Phillip?

No, I am referring to Dugald MacNeill. It was appropriate that the city of Glasgow honoured him with a quiet reception with the Lord Provost last week. Well done, Dugald. Have a great retirement.

I hear the College will soon host a social evening to thank you for all you have done for it over the years. Rightly so.

Park,-WillieI hear Willie Park is well on the way to full fitness ahead of his fundraising walk of the West Highland Way. Willie will be accompanied by half a dozen Swiss friends as they head off from Milngavie on the 24th of May. The funds raised are for the College's new teaching project, details of which will soon be revealed.

Please donate anything you can, large or small, via the JustGiving page.

Fettes College, the private school that produced Tony Blair, is looking for a part-time Piping Instructor. Information is on the website or contact Cameron Drummond at


Butter Fingers

Appeal after fire destroys instruments

What is left of the net-washing facility that was destroyed by fire – with all the Fèis' musical instruments. Photo: Scottish Fire & Rescue Service.

What remains of the net-washing facility that was destroyed by fire – including all the Fèis' musical instruments. Photo: Scottish Fire & Rescue Service.

Fèis Eilean na Hearadh (Isle of Harris Feis) has launched a fundraising appeal after a fire destroyed all of the musical instruments. The instruments had been stored in a net-washing station on Scalpay, Harris.  which was engulfed with fire last Friday. No one was hurt in the incident.

The GoFundMe appeal can be found HERE. So far, organisers have raised over half the amount they require. The College of Piping has replaced the practice chanters.

Fèis Eilean na Hearadh is a voluntary organisation who aim to promote the Gaelic language, culture and heritage through an annual festival for school age children on the Isle of Harris.


Highlands & Islands Young Piper of the Year, 2017

Pauline Craib, Secretary of Comunn Phìobaireachd Uibhist agus Bharraigh (CPUB), the Uist and Barra Piping Association, has sent us these entry forms for this year's Highlands & Islands 'Young Piper of the Year' competition which takes place on  Thursday 20 July at Sgoil Lionacleit, Benbecula. Also, the South Uist Games are on Wednesday 19 July and…
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J. M. Barclay's painting, The Piper to the 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane.

J. M. Barclay's painting, The Piper to the 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane.

A painting of John Bàn MacKenzie, piper to the Marquess of Breadalbane, has been stolen in what PoliceScotland describes as a "targeted theft". The painting, pictured right, is valued at £10,000 a and was taken from a house near Kippielaw Farm, near East Linton in East Lothian.

The painting, The Piper to the 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane by JM Barclay, dates from 1842 when MacKenzie was employed at  Taymouth Castle, Perthshire. Four other paintings were also taken.

The theft took place at some time between 17:00 on Saturday 15 April and 14:45 on Monday 24 April. Police are appealing for witnesses.

Inspector Andrew Hill said: "Based upon the specific nature of the property taken it is likely that this is a targeted theft. A vehicle would have been involved. The paintings stolen are all originals and very distinctive.

"If anyone has information about suspicious activity in this area, or knowledge of where these works of art are now located, please get in touch."

Taymouth Castle near Aberfeldy.

Taymouth Castle near Aberfeldy.

Born near Strathpeffer around 1797, John Bàn MacKenzie worked for 28 years as piper to the Marquess of Breadalbane. Considered to be the finest piper of his day, he was styled 'King of Pipers' by his contemporaries. He is a key figure in the transmission of traditional piobaireachd from the MacCrimmons to the present day. As a professional piper, he was successively piper to MacKenzie of Allangrange, Davidson of Tulloch and then the Marquis of Breadalbane. He is said to have turned down an invitation to join the Royal Household by becoming Queen Victoria's Piper. The position was then given to Angus MacKay.

The Museum of Piping – which has been housed in the College of Piping since the beginnings of the College in the 1940s – has John Bàn MacKenzie's bagpipe on display along with his wooden pipe box. The museum also has a set of bellow's-blown small pipes which were made by him for his nephew, Ronald.