PP Editor’s Blog: Lochaber Gathering/ Donald Campbell/ Braemar – Grampian League/ Alden Biesen

Lochaber 1To Fort William tonight for the annual Lochaber Gathering competition. A strong entry of over 50 pipers from juniors to senior P/A grade. I am giving a  short talk at 1.30 under the title of ‘The Judging of Solo Competition’ and hope to be able to offer some tips and advice to competitors.

The contest clashes with the Glenfinnan Highland Gathering, close by, 12 miles along the A830. With Lochaber starting at 8.30am it might be possible for pipers to slip along for a tune at one of the most scenic venues on the Highland games calendar. Glenfinnan gets underway shortly after 12 noon.

Results from both competitions tomorrow teatime or as soon as. The picture above shows Mike Fitzhenry, winner of the 2015 P/A Piobaireachd at Lochaber. Check out this year’s draw.


Donald with his Graduate Certificate from the Institute of Piping
Donald with his Graduate Certificate from the Institute of Piping

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Donald Campbell the other day. There was a fine piece by his brother Alastair in The Times and also an Obituary in the Herald newspaper.  Donald was only 62 and worked as the librarian at Glasgow University.

As the Vice Principal’s piper he played at many functions and graduations. He had joined the Scots Guards as a teenager but later had to leave on medical grounds. Though born in England, Donald moved to Glasgow after he left the Army.

He started a pipe making firm called ‘Vainglory Bagpipes’ and was a great lover of the instrument and its music throughout his life. He studied for his Institute of Piping Graduate Certificate so that tells you what a good player her was. (Six serious piobaireachd, six ‘big’ MSRs, canntaireachd, piping history etc.) I had the pleasure of examining him and the picture above shows Donald as we should remember him, delighted after being presented with his certificate.

The family had roots on Tiree and he and Alastair (Tony Blair’s spin doctor) would turn out for the local band when they were on the island in the summer. Donald enjoyed this immensely.

I will remember with admiration the kindness he showed for Kenny MacDonald, also of Tiree stock, in his last years. Two troubled souls comforted by the great pipe. Many was the hour they whiled away swapping tunes and stories in Kenny’s flat on the south side of Glasgow.


Patricia Grant of the Grampian Games Association has sent this:
'I have been advised that the Junior entry at Braemar is quite low.  Please spread the word, if possible, that there is a Junior League for both Piobaireachd and Light Music as with the Seniors. There are money prizes for the first four in each section which is over and above the money that can be earned at the various Games.
The Grampian Games Association is very keen to encourage all aspects of Highland games and by having a Junior Piping League it is endeavouring to encourage young pipers to compete.  If you know of anyone who would like to take part in the piping competition at Braemar please contact the Braemar secretary.  I know that the Northern Meetings are on the Thursday and Friday prior to Braemar so why not continue your piping at Braemar and finish off your week in style.'
Click on the ad. to enter:Braemar ad

Current placings in the Grampian League (sponsored by John Milne Fine Arts) are:
Senior Piob. Placings:
1 John MacDonald                                                  6
2=   Calum Brown                                                    5
2=   Alan Clark                                                           5
3=   Edward Gaul                                                      4
3=   Andrew Hall                                                       4
3=   Ross McCrindle                                                4
4=   Gordon McCready                                         3
4=   Anna Kummerlow                                          3
5=   Michael Laing                                                    2
5=   Ben Duncan                                                        2
6=   Gordon Barclay                                                1
6=  Allan Russell                                                        1

Senior Ceol Beag Placings:
1 Calum Brown                                                    30
2 Gordon McCready                                        18
3= Edward Gaul                                                  10
3= Allan Russell                                                  10
4= Andrew Hall                                                    8
4= John MacDonald                                          8
5 James McPetrie                                               5
6 Alan Clark                                                           6

Junior Piob. Placings:
1  Lee Taylor                                                           6
2)   Liam Brown                                                    5
3=) John MacLaren                                           4
3=)  Robbie MacIssac                                       4
4=) Tom Spencer                                                 3
4=)  Kyle Cameron                                             3

Junior Ceol Beag Placings:
1  Liam Brown                                                     21
2 John MacLaren                                                 8
3= Grant Sanderson                                           7
3= Lee Taylor                                                          7
3= Dillon Finnie                                                    6
4 Robbie MacIssac                                              4
5 Murray Watt                                                       3
6= Matthew Moir                                                2
6= Angus Robertson                                          2
6= James Tough                                                     2


scottish schools pipes and drums trust logoAlex Duncan of the Scottish Schools Pipes & Drums Trust has sent this about a new job at the Trust:  'Charity Administrator; Part time: 3.5 days per week £22,000 - £32,000 depending on experience: pro rata £15,400 - £22,400; 28 days holiday pro rata; contributory pension.

'The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust is a progressive national charity that supports piping and drumming tuition for state school pupils and the development of school pipe bands.  We also organise the annual Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships and advocate for piping and drumming tuition in state schools.

'Our work is expanding across Scotland and we have an exciting opportunity for a part-time administrator who will manage an efficient office that supports all aspects of the trust’s work.  The post-holder will be highly organised, with exceptional attention to detail, and motivated to succeed.  Excellent Microsoft Office skills and at least two years of office-based administration are essential.  Experience of managing an office or of charity administration is desirable.  Knowledge of piping and pipe band drumming is preferred but not essential. For details about how to apply, and more information about the post,  visit www.sspdt.org.uk .'


image001Rudi Schils of the Alden Biesen Scots Weekend in Belgium has sent this: 'Come September, all Scotland enthusiasts will celebrate together at the Land Commandery of Alden Biesen in Rijkhoven. The terrain will receive a facelift, taking into account the feedback we received from our visitors. 

'Folk lovers are in for a treat this year, with music from Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Canada, Brittany and of course also, Belgium. To name only a few: Imar – Rura – Fred Morrison – Mec Lir – The Lumber Jills – Scott Wood Band – Plantec – Snakes in Exile.

'Registrations for our competitions are also coming in nicely.  So, pipe bands, Highland dancers, Highland gamers, Tug-of-War, city councils, remember to register quickly at www.scottish-weekend.be and compete for one of the many titles to be won at the 31st Scottish Weekend at Alden Biesen. As an organisation, we are very happy with the registrations we have already received from Scotland, England, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium. Mark your calendars again on September 9, 10 and 11, when the Scottish flag is proudly waving over the grounds of Alden Biesen.'