PP Editor’s Blog: Sandy Hain/ Donella Beaton/ SPA/ South Florida etc.

It was a pleasure to talk to Sandy Hain the other day. Sandy is the composer of the popular jig Donald MacKillop, now better known, erroneously, as Duncan MacKillop. The eponymous Donald was from Wick and a piper in the Black Watch through WW2. Sandy was  Pipe Major at the regimental depot in Perth.

Sandy ‘did the course’ with Willie Ross 1950 -51 along with Bob Crabb (Scots Guards), Peter Forbes (Dundee) and George Johnstone of the Camerons, composer of another well-known jig, Donella Beaton. Willie must have been encouraging them to write tunes, particularly jigs. Here is my copy of an early manuscript of Donella’s tune:donella-beaton

Have a listen to it played by Inveraray & District Pipe Band at their Ascension concert a couple of years back. Sadly Donella, originally from Berneray, passed away last November aged 80. She had been married to Adam Scott of the well-known South Uist piping family. They met at the Lochboisdale Hotel where Donella worked as a barmaid and Adam as chauffeur to the owner, Finlay MacKenzie. (Readers will know that it is the Finlay MacKenzie Memorial Trophy that is offered each year for the winner of the Uist &  Barra Piobaireachd).

The tune Donald MacKillop was picked up by John Weatherston and Bob Hardie when they were judging at the Highland Brigade Games at Dunblane in the early 50s where, Sandy tells me, he got all the firsts. The tune duly appeared on Red Hackle and Muirheads LPs called ‘Duncan MacKillop’.

Sandy and medals

Sandy was appointed Pipe Major of the Depot Black Watch band and later  of the 2nd Bn. Black Watch, a post that he held until the battalion was disbanded in 1957. He is now in his late 80s and has been domiciled in the US, in Ohio, since 1958, moving there from Leslie in Fife. He has many pupils to whom he spares no effort in passing on his considerable knowledge and experience.

The picture up top is of the pipers on the 1950 -51 course. They are: L/Cpl George Johnstone, Cameron Highlanders; Cpl. Sandy Hain, Black Watch; Cpl. T. Shearer, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders; Cpl. Peter Forbes, Highland Light Infantry; P/M Bob Crabb, Scots Guards; Bobby Cuthbertson (the dancer, who taught the course Highland dancing); Cpl. G. Symon, Gordon Highlanders; and L/Sgt. Ramsay, Irish Guards.

south florida logoI’ve done a welcome message for the South Florida Pipe and Drum Academy website. With seven weeks to go until the second annual Academy we already have a  healthy intake of students. Instructors are myself, P/M Barry Donaldson, Donald McBride, Tommy Johnston (side drumming) and Andrew Adams (bass and tenor). As the rain continues to pour down here in not so Bonnie Scotland, it makes a week in Boca Raton all the more appealing.

The date for the SPA Professional contest is likely to be April 23rd. Watch this space for entry forms. This Saturday sees another round of the SPA Knockout with Angus MacColl taking on Alasdair Henderson. Venue is the College of Piping, time, 7 for 7.30pm. The Association’s AGM is on February 5 at the same venue.

Pipers-publicity_V2PR person Lucinda Broadbent: ‘Just a quick note to let you know ‘The Wee Govan Pipers’ film is available on BBC i-Player – now and for the next 28 days. We’d be delighted if you can share the link with the readers of your Piping Press blog. 

Gayle Hunter of the RSPBA HQ has been in touch to say that the date for the World Solo Drumming is Saturday October 22nd and not as previously intimated. Full report and pictures from last year’s WSD here:

Fresh from his stint in Oman, ex Scots Guards piper Neil Clark is now  settling down to teach near his home in Falkirk. More details to follow. He has also brought out a new CD which is available from him here The album’s title is a reference to Neil’s time in Drumnadrochit where he ran his teaching school, Great Glen Piping.neil-CD

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