The organisers of the prestigious Donald MacLeod Memorial Competition have gone public to express their disapproval of the withdrawal of two world-famous pipers from the event which takes place on the isle of Lewis in the Western Isles tomorrow (April 10).
The Lewis and Harris Piping Society say they are bitterly disappointed at the withdrawals of Douglas Murray and Gordon Walker 24 hours before the competitors were due to fly to the Hebridean island for the competition.
The Society’s spokesman, P/M Iain Murdo Morrison, told pipingpress.com: ‘When we consider the organisation, the money and the time that we take in making sure every detail of the weekend goes well, it is disappointing to say the least when pipers of this stature pull out at the last minute. I hope they are not showing any disrespect to P/M MacLeod whose memory we honour.
‘I understand Gordon Walker has taken ill and is on antibiotics and that Douglas Murray has been overwhelmed by business commitments. Both telephoned me to say they couldn’t manage and to his credit Douglas has offered to reimburse his air ticket to the Society. The competition will, of course, go ahead as planned with six internationally renowned pipers contesting the coveted trophy.’
P/M Walker, many times a winner of the Donald MacLeod, could not be contacted by the PP news desk, but P/M Murray, last year’s double Gold Medallist, said: ‘Earlier this year I took over the Kilberry Bagpipes firm in Edinburgh and I’m afraid I did not foresee the work that that would involve. I simply could not spare a weekend away from the business at this time and perhaps put my investment in jeopardy. I too am bitterly disappointed at not being able to travel to the Donald MacLeod competition. I was honoured to receive the invite last October and readily agreed to play. I just did not foresee the difficulties that lay ahead for me.
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‘I would like to publicly offer my sincere apologies to P/M Morrison and the Lewis & Harris Piping Society. The decision I took to withdraw was not taken lightly or out of any disrespect for the competition of P/M MacLeod’s memory. He is a figure I, and I’m sure all pipers, revere.’
The competition, started in 1994, will feature world-class performers in Gordon McCready, William McCallum, Glenn Brown, Finlay Johnston, Callum Beaumont and Iain Speirs. It will be held in the Caladh Inn, James Street, Stornoway from 10.15am and will be followed by a ceilidh in the evening. Tickets cost £15 (includes programme) and are available at the door. The adjudicators are Iain MacFadyen, John Wilson and William Morrison. Fear an Tighe is Dr John Smith. A day of superb piping is guaranteed.
An interesting feature of the competition is that all pipers are asked to play music composed by P/M MacLeod, both ceol mor and ceol beag. The competition costs upwards of £12,000 annually to stage and last October received substantial donations from the National Piping Centre’s livestreaming of the Glenfiddich Piping Championship. Check here for first results from the Donald MacLeod 2015.