A New Decade for the Worldwide Piping and Pipe Band Family

By The Editor

All the very best to all of our readers, advertisers and contributors for 2020. 2019 has been a successful year for Piping Press, with many thousands of readers attracted by our ‘no spin, no subscription’ quality journalism.

Thanks to your support Piping Press will remain an independent, free, self financing web magazine for all of next year and beyond. Since our beginnings five years ago the magazine has built on its considerable archive of material and this is available by simply using the search engine on this page. I would encourage everyone to have a look. You’ll be surprisied at what you find there.

As we enter a new decade, here’s a few thoughts on the last:
Piper of the Decade: Stuart Liddell – every solo title worth having fell to this maestro during the last ten years and to that he added two World Pipe Band Championships. A close runner up, and certain to continue his success, is Callum Beaumont – a remarkable four Clasps already for this young man and more to come. Super stuff too from Iain Speirs, Finlay Johnston and Angus MacColl. Watch out for a new crop of young superstars beginning to make their presence felt.

Piper of the Decade, Stuart Liddell
P/M Stuart Liddell and Inveraray & District lead the Hogmanay celebrations on BBC Scotland

Pipe Band of the Decade: Field Marshal Montgomery. There’s not much more I can say about P/M Richard Parkes’s music machine. Six World titles alone in the decade. Whether they pick up another is immaterial. Richard’s and FMM’s names are up there with the All Time Greats.

All Time Greats….P/M Richard Parkes and Field Marshal pictured in 2018

Organisation of the Decade: The RSPBA. They have brought millions into the Scottish economy with their major championships, and in particular the Worlds. They get scant reward for it and a paltry input of public money for their Headquarters redevelopment. No matter, they kept the head, salted away cash at the end of each season and the new refurbed HQ will open officially this summer.

Ian Embelton, RSPBA Chief Executive, John Hughes, Chairman, and Alex Dalziel, Chief Steward, receive an award for the Worlds from Visit Scotland

Low point: The demise of the once great College of Piping. For seventy plus years the College led the way in solo piping with its ‘lessons for all’ ethos, its super journalism and tutor books. The takeover by the Pipng Centre was a seismic event but given the sorry state the College was in in 2017, probably for the best.

High point: The continued growth of piobaireachd playing around the world, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the Piobaireachd Society. There are now more tunes played in more countries of the world than ever before.

The Society has been front and centre throughout this endeavour and its website with its sound archive and its world class books has given access to the best of this music. The respect for ceol mor in bands, non existent in my younger day, is here to stay.

Humour high point: Michael Grey’s drawing and tune marking the risible ‘Inspector Clueless’ episode.

Embarrassment of the Decade: Let’s not go there. Those involved know who they are. Unfortunately for them what happened won’t go away.

Composers of the Decade: Mike Grey (above), Dave Mason for his tune for John Cruikshank VC, Peter MacInnes for his for Lt. John Young, Assam Regiment, and Jori Chisholm for his Shasta Piobaireachd. Catch them all on the PP Audio Archive.

So here’s to the next ten years and thanks Cailean Maclean, Skye, for the smashing card (above). Now stay safe and enjoy your music and before we go let’s remember those in piping and pipe bands we have lost in the past ten years:

2010: Greig Sharp, Kintail bagpipemakers; Walter Drysdale, teacher, solo judge; Kenny MacDonald, teacher, double Gold Medallist; Willie MacDonald, Benbecula, double Gold Medallist, Clasp winner; Sue MacIntyre MBE, Scots Guards, teacher; Bill Millin, D-Day piper; Reta Stewart, Broughty Ferry, teacher; John Finlay, teacher, Muirhead & Sons/ Shotts PB; Dr Bill Richmond, piper and cholesterol test pioneer.

Sue MacIntyre MBE and Greig Sharp of Kintail Bagpipes

2011: P/M Sandy Spence, Atholl Highlanders; Donald P MacGillivray, Nigg, Gold Medallist; Angus MacPhee, art teacher, piper; John Graham, Avonbridge, leading competitor; Neil Smith, South Uist, Strathclyde Police; Rose Fletcher, lady piper pioneer; Lewis Turrell NZ, first overseas Gold Medal; P/M Alasdair Gillies, legendary player; Dr Martin Lowe, RSPS; Jimmie McGregor, jnr, enthusiast and games organiser.

Donald MacPherson….probably the most successful competitive piper in history

2012: P/Sgt Davy Hutton, Muirhead & Sons; P/M Sandy Keith, Ontario and Florida; Donald MacPherson, the most successful solo piper of all time; Nick Kinsey, South Africa; Lt. Col. Brian MacKenzie RSPS.

2013: Alasdair Milne, ex BBC DG, John MacFadyen Trust; Allan Beaton, Piob. Soc., London and Skye; Charles Richards, A&SH of Canada; Alistair Campsie, writer – ‘Madness of Angus MacKay’; Tony MacDonald, Scots Guards, teacher; Ivan MacDonald, North Uist; Hugh Wilson, Falkirk, teacher; Maclean MacLeod, Delaware, USPF; William Brown, Fife & Germany.

2014: Angus John MacLellan, double Gold Medallist, Strathclyde Police; Robert Beck, Tiree, vet, piper; P/M Bill Hepburn, Turriff; Bridget MacKenzie, piping historian; Ian Clowe, Dumfries, Gold Medallist; Sir Ian McKay, NZ Piob. Soc.; James King, Dysart L/D, Finlay MacRae, piper, conservationist; Dougie Ferguson, Islay, top player; Denver Cardwell, RSPA adjudicator.

Denver Cardwell in his younger day

2015: Erwan Ropars, Bagad Quimper; Douglas Elmslie, Muirhead & Sons; Professor Roderick Cannon, piobaireachd researcher and author; Geoff Hore, NZ, collector and researcher; Ed Neigh, Ontario, noted solo piper and teacher.

2016: John MacDougall, outstanding solo piper and double Gold Medallist; William McCallum Snr., Campbeltown; Donald Campbell, Glasgow University piper; Billy Stevenson, Shotts L/D; Hugh ‘Baggy’ MacMillan, SPSL; Duncan MacDiarmid, Atholl Highlanders; Angus Nicol, HSL and Argyllshire Gathering; Tommy Millar MBE, North Irish piping broadcaster.

Alasdair Gillies competing as a boy

2017: Elaine Marnoch, prizewinning lady piper; Geoff Neigh, Ontario, teacher and administrator; Reay MacKay, Ontario, judge and teacher; P/M Iain McLeod, Edinburgh Police; Eilidh MacLeod (14) victim of Manchester terrorist murder; Norman MacLean, piper, actor, comedian, writer; P/M Andy Donaldson, Fife, teacher, father of Brian and Andy; P/M Bob Kilgour MBE Scots Guards; Andrew Bonar, Silver Medallist, SFU PB.

2018: Liam Og O’Flynn, uillean pipe master; P/M Sandy Hain, Black Watch, teacher, composer; Sovereign’s Piper Gordon Webster; P/M Jimmy Jackson, solo judge, teacher; Lord Martin of Springburn, College of Piping director; P/M Tom MacLean, Strathendrick PB; Angus Lawrie, Strathclyde Police, composer.

P/M RT Shepherd

2019: PP photojournalist John Kelly; Tom Dingwall, Callander Pipe Band, SPA; Bruno Schroder, Argyllshire Gathering, philanthropist; Bill Gass, Silver Medallist; Lawrie Gillespie, City of Edinburgh Police; Alex Connell, Strathclyde Police L/D; Allistair Sinclair, master bagpipemaker; Hugh MacCallum, outstanding solo piper and double Gold Medallist; James Hardie, Silver Medallist, son of RG Hardie; Dr J David Hester, piobaireachd researcher; P/M Trevor Dear, Invergordon and Dingwall British Legion PB, RSPA judge; Robert Turner, L/D Muirhead & Sons; P/M Sandy MacPhee, Florida, teacher; P/M RT Shepherd, World Championship winning P/M, innovator, band judge, instrument manufacturer.

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3 thoughts on “A New Decade for the Worldwide Piping and Pipe Band Family

  1. Thanks Robert for the outstanding record of the last decade! Keep up the good work and all the best for 2020 and beyond!

  2. Thanks to all at PP for the hard work and interesting articles in 2019. A great source of information which I follow and pass on bits to my piping friends in Western Australia. All the best for 2020.

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