The College of Piping has issued the following apology to professional bagpipe instructor, senior solo piping adjudicator and former College director, Mr Barry Donaldson.
The apology reads: ‘Barry Donaldson; The College of Piping acknowledges the rumour and speculation which has recently surrounded the appointment of Barry Donaldson as a tutor at the Northern Piping School in Lohheide, Germany, in November 2017. This rumour and speculation clearly followed comments made in College emails to the School’s Principal. The College wishes to record that the decision taken by its Board to withdraw its support for the Northern Winter School had nothing to do with Mr Donaldson’s presence as a tutor and was primarily because of the College’s ongoing commitment to its own Winter School in Homburg, Germany, which takes place in February 2018. The Board would like to further emphasise that it has no concerns or reservations regarding Mr Donaldson’s personal profile nor his experiential background as a piping instructor and, therefore, the College regrets and unreservedly apologises for any damage which may have occurred to Mr Donaldson’s reputation as a result of the comments made.’
Mr Donaldson said: ‘This has been a very trying episode but I cannot comment fully on it at this time as the matter is the subject of an ongoing complaint to the Solo Piping Judges Association.’
This latest apology by the College of Piping follows several difficult months for the long-established institution founded by Seumas MacNeill and Thomas Pearston in 1944. On August 15th Piping Press reported on the replacement of General Manager Fraser MacInnes: ‘Just when things seemed to be settling down at the College of Piping we hear of another departure, that of General Manager Fraser MacInnes, writes the Editor. My information is that the parting was not as harmonious as it might have been. There must have been personality issues here for, according to the Office of Scottish Charities Register (OSCR), the College’s profit last year was £21,000. The old place seemed to be doing alright under Mr MacInnes’s guidance, however business will now be conducted jointly by Piping Times Editor Stuart Letford and Piping Director Colin MacLellan with the firm hand of Chairman Colin MacNeill conducting traffic from Edinburgh…..’
There then followed defamatory comments made on the College’s ‘Butterfingers Blog’ about Piping Press Editor Robert Wallace. This matter was settled out of court with costs paid in Mr Wallace’s favour. A published apology read: ‘Robert Wallace – an apology: In the Butterfingers Blog on 18 August 2017, we published a post relating to the withdrawal from the Argyllshire Gathering by one or two senior pipers, because of the presence of a particular judge. Although the judge was not named we accept that, to those familiar with the subject matter of the post, he would be identifiable as Robert Wallace. [Offensive language redacted]. We accept that such comments were rash and ill-judged and to make them in a setting which afforded Mr Wallace no simultaneous right to respond or comment was unfair. We also accept that such comments were not appropriate for a blog that is published by the College of Piping and we would like to unreservedly apologise to Mr Wallace for any professional or personal embarrassment and hurt caused to him and his family by the statement.’ Mr Wallace was College of Piping Principal and Editor of the Piping Times for 15 years from 1999 to 2014.
Following this, on November 20th, there was the surprise resignation after only 15 months in post of Colin MacLellan the then CoP Director of Piping. A statement from the College read: ‘The College of Piping announces that due to pressure of other commitments, Colin MacLellan has decided to step down from his position as Director of Piping with effect from the end of November 2017. The College is very grateful to Colin for his hard work in the short time he was in the role and is pleased that Colin will remain associated as an adviser and friend of the College.
‘Stuart Letford, editor of the Piping Times, will carry on as Interim Manager at the College until March 31, 2018, while the board continues its strategic review of the College’s vision and activities.’
Now, three weeks later, this latest apology to Mr Donaldson. Mr Donaldson is very active in piping and pipe bands. As well as duties as a solo piping judge and teacher, last month was accepted as a member of the RSPBA’s Adjudicator Panel and is also an RSPBA Assessor for the Piping & Drumming Qualifications Board.
Mr Donaldson is also in much demand as an overseas instructor and this year attended the Bagpipe Association of Germany’s summer school at Burg Breuberg, as well as the above mentioned Northern Winter School, also in Germany. He will be Senior Instructor of Piping at the South Florida Pipe and Drum Academy in February, a post he has held since the school inception almost three years ago.
Mr Donaldson is a former member of the Strathclyde Police Pipe Band under P/M Ian McLellan and won 11 World Grade 1 titles with the famous pipe major. He also led Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Pipe Band to major championship success in Grade 2 and was latterly pipe major of the City of Edinburgh Pipe Band.