After an anxious few days we are pleased to report that top professional piper Niall Stewart has recovered his missing silver and ivory Henderson bagpipe. Niall and pipes are pictured above.
The pipes, valued at £6,000 ($8,000US) went missing last Saturday. Niall had left them in the unlocked boot of his car outside his home in the quiet village of Kyle of Lochalsh in the north west Highlands. Going back to the car fifteen minutes later he discovered the boot lying open and the pipes gone.
A desperate search of the area and his house revealed nothing and Niall, a double Gold Medallist and an expert in ceol beag too, reported them missing to the police. A description of the pipes and an appeal for help was posted on Facebook with 3,000+ people sharing the message. Lots of sympathy, but after two days still no pipes.
Police inquiries were made, locals interviewed and a detailed search made nearby.
Armed with new information police spotted some bright red trim on the case deep in undergowth of brambles and other vegetation very close to Niall’s home. A little more delving and there were the pipes, rain-soaked but otherwise undamaged. Within minutes they had been returned to a relieved, grateful piper.
Niall said later, ‘This was an anxious couple of days for me. I am just glad the individual involved didn’t realise the value of the pipes or I might never have seen them again. Living in a quite place like Kyle you perhaps let your guard down a little but as this episode shows you can never be too careful and I will be from now on. I would like to thank the police and all those who helped me recover the pipes and everyone who sent messages of support through social media. I am very grateful to everyone for their assistance.’
Silver and ivory Henderson pipes of early 20th century vintage are among the most sought after in world piping. Niall’s are a particularly outstanding set on which he has won all his major piping titles including his Gold Medals and Former Winners’ MSR titles at Inverness and elsewhere. Last August Niall played with his band, Lochalsh Juniors at the World Pipe Band Championships on Glasgow Green winning the Novice B grade.
He added: ‘With our band winning our grade at the Worlds this was turning out to be a great year for us, but losing the pipes would have been a bad way to end things.’