Pipers Get Verbal Broadside After Competition Withdrawal

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.

P/M Iain Murdo Morrison
P/M Iain Murdo Morrison

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. Watch a Livestream from the contest here.

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.


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2 thoughts on “Pipers Get Verbal Broadside After Competition Withdrawal”

  1. in addition to your article, P/M Gordon Walker has also expressed his disappointed at not being able to attend this competition. I emailed Donalda Morrison myself last night but got no response from her as to whether she even received my email, however it seems conversations have been taking place behind the scenes regarding Gordon’s withdrawal from the contest, and to suggest that it would be the intension to show any disrespect to P/M Macleod’s memory is very insulting. Gordon always admired P/M Macleod and would never think about insulting his memory Gordon took ill just prior to the school breaking up for Easter last Friday and got steadily worse so much so I called in his doctor on Monday and Gordon was put on a course of antibiotics which we hoped would kick in after taking them for two to three days but the antibiotics havn’t worked so far and Gordon is still very ill. I.m sorry if the piping press have tried to contact him but when your lying in bed so unwell answering phone calls isn’t a priority hense the reason for my reply on Gordons behalf and he too is willing to reimburst the society for flight costs if the organisers kindly let him know what that cost is. We hope the contest goes well and wish them all the best for the future.

    Yours Sincerely
    Mrs Sheena Walker

  2. Dear Pipingpress,

    I feel I must also add my comment on the “disrespectful withdrawal” of both P/M’s Murray and Walker from the prestigious P/M Donald Macleod competition.
    I have known Gordon for more years than I care to be reminded of and I wish I “had a shillin” for the hours that we (Gordon and myself) have sat and played, admired and enjoyed “wee Donald’s” music,so I know “first hand” the respect P/M Walker has for P/M Macleod therefore to miss this competition would be like him forgetting his mum Sheena’s birthday and there’s more chance of me winnin the Grand National on ma pushbike than THAT happening.
    Actually, I KNOW how ill Gordon is and he could not have attended the competition at all.!! AND, he is very disappointed as he was looking forward to it and had been preparing rigorously for a week or two.

    I am also a very good friend of “Dougie” Murray and I KNOW he is of the same degree of professionalism as Gordon so, HE TOO, would NEVER miss this competition unless there was a VERY important reason for him not to attend…..

    From what I can ascertain the competition was attended by some of our top players and was NOT compromised in any way so all is well and we march on to the next venue and whatever controversy that may or may not arise

    sincerely yours

    Andy Donaldson

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