The death has been reported of Trevor Dear, pipe major, pipe band adjudicator, teacher and pipe music collector. Trevor, who was 79, had been ill for some time and died in hospital yesterday evening. He had been due for discharge but collapsed and could not be revived.
Trevor was born in Forfar, Angus, and began piping aged seven being taught by P/M Norman Meldrum of Invercauld, Braemar. After what he described as ‘an excellent grounding’ from P/M Meldrum he then received tuition from Charles Begg of Forfar and subsequently from P/M Sandy Campbell then of Kirriemuir and who emigrated and became famous in Queensland, Australia.
The quality of teaching Trevor received had to have a positive result and he won all the amateur prizes open to him and also significant numbers of awards round the local Highland games.
But it was with pipe bands that his main interest lay. As a young man Trevor joined the Forfar Burgh band under P/M Walter Leslie. In the 1960s and early 70s he had a close friendship with P/M Jackie Smith and Alex Kiddie of the Muirhead & Sons band and learned much from them. He was eventually appointed P/Sgt of the Forfar band under P/M Leslie and under their dual guidance the band went from Grade 4 to Grade 1 in four seasons.
Following this, in 1965, P/M Donald Shaw Ramsay recruited Trevor for the superstar pipe band of the age, Invergordon Distillery, where whisky magnate Frank Thomson spared no expense on full number one uniforms, Red Gordon kilts and plaids and whisky jobs for the band’s pipers and drummers.
These included John D Burgess, John MacDougall, Alex Duthart, Jim Hutton, Kit Reynolds, Joe Wilson and many other frontline bandsmen of the era. As Trevor told me when I interviewed him in 2000: ‘This was indeed an outfit of the highest calibre and it gave me great pleasure to be part of it.
‘I enjoyed playing with so many very fine musicians. We certainly introduced some new musical approaches for pipe bands and won many of the major prizes on the way.’
When P/M Ramsay retired Trevor was approached to become Pipe Major of Invergordon and led them on a tour of Ireland and was in charge for their last radio broadcast from the BBC’s Grampian Studios in Aberdeen.
In 1966 he joined Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band as a guest player under P/M Iain McLeod, another period of his career he enjoyed greatly, before work took him back north where he took over as pipe major of Dingwall British Legion.
Trevor took them from Grade 4 to Grade 1 in four seasons, the second time he had had such an experience with a band.
On retiring from bands in 1974 he joined the RSPBA’s Adjudicators’ Panel and qualified as both a piping and ensemble judge. He was a very conscientious adjudicator. On one occasion he said: ‘I always appreciate the hard work that goes into a band’s performance in all of the grades. They are all trying to get it right on the day and I always make the effort to give them an honest result.’
In 2008 Trevor produced his own collection of pipe music the ‘Speyside Highland Collection of Bagpipe Music’. This was very well received by the piping and pipe band community and contained tunes from the likes of George McIntyre, Donald Shaw Ramsay, Harry McNulty, Finlay McRae and Bruce Thomson – and one from British Columbia’s Robert MacNeil, a four parted Strathspey, ‘Trevor Dear of Morayshire’.
Our thoughts and condolences are with Trevor’s wife Nora and family and friends at this time. RW