History: The Northern Meeting, Inverness, 1970 – Part 3

We conclude our report taken from the Oban Times of almost 50 years ago. The article is unattributed. We would be interested to hear from anyone who was at this gathering featuring as it does some of the great names of the past and present….

Forty-six competitors had entered for the Strathspey & Reel competition, however some were unable to be present and others were unable to complete their tunes. Of the 27 who did, the prizes were awarded to Dr John MacAskill [1st] (Maggie Cameron, Alick C MacGregor); A  Anderson, recently retired from the 1st Batt. The Gordon Highlanders [2nd], (Atholl Cummers, The Rejected Suitor); and Dun­can McDiarmid, Aberfeldy [3rd], (Arniston Castle, The Brolum); Ian McLellan, Glasgow Police, [4th] (Loch Loskin, Miss Proud).

The judges for this competi­tion were those who judged the Gold Medal competition. [The winner Dr MacAskill, is pictured ‘seated’ above at Inverness two years later, in 1972, when he won the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal. To the left is Iain MacFadyen and to John’s right is Hugh MacCallum; furthest right is Angus MacPherson, Invershin (see below)].

Jimmy Banks, Scots Guards, delighted the writer with his playing in the Northern Meeting Strathspey & Reel in 1970

This competition was held in the Caledonian Hotel ballroom and de­lightful performances were heard from many of the competitors who could not be included in the prizelist including John MacDougall (Tulloch Castle, Mrs MacPherson of lnveran); Corporal James Banks, Scots Guards, (Cabar Feidh, Thomson’s Dirk); John Wilson (Delvinside, Lochiel’s Awa’ tae France).

The prize winners in the Jig competi­tion were William Morrison, Bornish, [1st] (John Paterson’s Mare); Dr John Mac­Askill [2nd] (Cutting the Bracken), Ian Mc­Lellan [3rd], Glasgow Police, (The Judge’s Dilemma). The judges were Pipe Major Donald MacLeod, Captain D.R. Mac­Lennan and Dr Robert Frater.

Record Attendance 

Brigadier J. Sorrel-Cameron, con­venor of the Northern Meeting, pre­sented the prizes and in his address said that the continued increase in the number of competitors and the number of spectators was a matter of great satisfaction to the Northern Meeting, who had sponsored this gathering for about 150 years. 

He referred to the need to maintain as high a standard of judging as possible and said that it was the policy of the piping committee under the Chair­manship of Major General F. M. Richardson, to invite the most eminent judges possible and also to vary the bench from year to year.

On this occasion both he and Captain D. R. MacLennan had stood down and Brigadier Sorrel-Cameron thanked the latter who had agreed to take part when Mr D.P. MacGillivray, Nigg, had had to withdraw at short notice.

Captain DR MacLennan and Angus MacPherson, prominent figures at the 1970 NM

Brigadier J. Sorrel-Cameron congratulated Mr Angus MacPherson on this, the 77th year he has attended the gathering. He also thanked Miss Mary MacInnes for her generosity in present­ing the MacInnes Cup as a challenge trophy for the junior competition in memory of her late brother Dr John MacInnes. 

He concluded his remarks with a vote of thanks to the secretary, Mr James MacIntosh, whose unseen efforts meant so much to the success of the occasion.

The attendance of spectators on the two days this year was 606, beating last year’s total by five. Despite the in­come from this source it is interesting to reflect that the net cost to the Northern Meeting of running this gathering is nearly £500.

Angus MacPherson’s Ceilidh 

An important feature of this gather­ing is what has come to be called Angus MacPherson’s Ceilidh on Friday night. Mr Angus MacPherson, who was honoured by Her Majesty with the MBE last year, first attended the gathering as a competitor in 1894 and he has attended every year since except when it has had to be cancelled during one war or another.

Under the firm but good humoured direction of Captain D.R. MacLennan a capacity audience in Cummings Hotel heard a succession of all the major prize winners and others including Pipe Major Donald MacLeod and Capt. John MacLellan.

Captain John MacLellan piped at the 1970 NM ceilidh

The ceilidh started at 7pm and finished at midnight, when Mr MacPherson said a few words and the fear an tighe led the company in singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

And so the Northern Meeting came to an end. This is the climax of the piping season and the occasion which most pipers like to attend. Soon the set tunes will be announced for next year’s competitions and everyone will look forward again to the next gathering. 

The results in the junior competitions were: March: 1 Kenneth MacLen­nan; 2 Roger Sharp; 3 Graham Brown; 4, Roderick MacDonald. March, Strath­spey and Reel: 1 Alex MacKenzie; 2 Gray Lumsden; 3 Lewis Murdoch; 4 George MacKay. 

  • Read earlier excerpts here.

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