This review appeared in the last issue of the Queensland Highland Pipers’ Society Newsletter: ‘Our September meeting was turned into a recital at a new venue – the famous Regatta Hotel at Toowong. The guest pipers were to be Callum Beaumont, Kyle Warren and Alasdair Henderson. Unfortunately, Callum had been unable to come to Australia and had been ably replaced by Jamie Hawke. The three of them were here for a workshop at BBC [Brisbane Boys Club?] and then went on to Canberra and Christchurch.
‘We had a great crowd of about 90 people who squeezed into a function room on the first floor of the hotel, leaving just enough room for the pipers to perform at one end and for people to approach the bar at the other! Tom McGirr was the MC for the evening and first introduced Jamie Hawke to play. Jamie was playing a set of Strathmore pipes with a McCallum chanter and his tunes included Jean Mauchline, P/M Bill Boyle, The High Level, Joe McGann’s Fiddle and Jock Wilson’s Ball, some 9/8s, P/M John MacDonald’s Welcome to South Uist, Glenfinnan Highland Gathering, Susan Macleod, Bessie Macintyre, The Grey Bob, Brown Haired Maiden, an Irish air and some jigs.‘Player number two was Kyle Warren who is now teaching at Scotch College in Melbourne and is Pipe Major of Hawthorn City pipe band and a guest player with the New Zealand Police. He started off with Lochanside and Farewell to Nigg and other tunes included some slow airs, MacLeod of Mull, Fairview Cottage, The Sandpiper, The Heckler, Johnny’s Tune, Cold and Bright and finishing up with Farewell to Nigg and Lochanside rearranged in various time signatures.
‘Alasdair Henderson was the last player and showed us why he has been doing so well on the solo circuit in Scotland this year. He was playing an all-Naill instrument with Eezeedrone drone reeds which was easily the best pipe of the night, although the other two had been excellent. His tunes included Leaving Ireland, Bonawe Highlanders, Dovecote Park, Hazel Thompson, The Seagull, Colonel MacLean of Ardgour, Caledonian Society of London, Mrs MacPherson of Inveran, some 4/4s, the ground of a piobaireachd, some waltzes and jigs and small strathspeys and reels.
‘President Andrew Roach extended thanks to the players and thanks especially to those who had been involved with organising the workshop. He proposed, to universal acclaim, that we should aim to use the venue at least twice a year for similar events. Finally all three of our recitalists came back and played together a 3/4 and a jig – a fitting finale.’
I hope the weather stays reasonable tomorrow for all those of us playing at various Remembrance Sunday services. The forecast here in Scotland is generally showers and not too cold. In London we will see the ceremony and march past at the Cenotaph. This will feature the Chelsea Pensioners. The Royal Hospital Chelsea is a retirement home and nursing home for some 300 veterans of the British Army located on Royal Hospital Road in Chelsea, London.
At the Northern Meeting in September Chelsea Pensioner Jimmy Nicholson was in attendance and added much colour to the gathering. I took the opportunity of having a word with him….. ‘I have been in the Royal Hospital for seven years come this month. I am from Forres in the county of Moray. I was taught piping by P/M Morrison who was an ex-Gordon Highlander from Auldearn. I was 10 at the time. Many years later when I was taken for my National Service into the Scots Guards I was a piper and Donald Crabbe was my pipe major. The RSM came from Grantown on Spey, Mr Fraser. I am 87 now and this is my first time at the Northern Meeting. I am enjoying the piping, the piobaireachd this morning and the MSR this afternoon and I’m coming back on Friday. I came to Inverness quite a lot with my parents when I was a young lad.
‘I travelled up from London yesterday on the Clansman train and I’m staying in the Waterside Hotel! Doing it in style? Yes – you can’t take it with you; I’m as well to use it!
‘The piping in London is very, very strong. I go up to the London Scottish every Thursday. I played when I first went there but now I can’t but I go up there and listen and we hold our lodge meetings there as well. There are a few pipers at the Pensioners who can still play – Michael Shannon for one and David MacIntyre, that’s David from Campbeltown, ex-Scots Guards. (Readers may have seen Davy presenting the prizes at the SPSL last weekend).
‘I went to the World Pipe Band Championships this year too; it was the second time I’d been at the Championships. Before that it was 26 years since I had been in Glasgow. We got one dry day, the Saturday, but the rest of the week unfortunately it was rain, but during the week I heard one or two of the pipers who are competing here today. I have also been up at the European Pipe Band Championships in my home town.’
Still with the Northern Meeting, I was trawling through our archives the other day and came across this picture (top) I took at the Northern Meeting some years ago – must have been in the late 90s or early 2000s. It features pipers of the Highlanders Regiment who all had a successful day at that particular Meeting. The pipers are P/M DJ MacIntyre, P/M Donald MacKay, P/M Niall Matheson and the late P/M Alasdair Gillies. During their competing days these gents kept a proud regimental tradition of piping excellence well to the fore. Happy times. Though competing less these days DJ and Niall are heavily involved in teaching and Donald is currently P/Sgt of Scottish Power.