It is with regret we report the passing of Dr Hugh Hepburn, Aberdeen. Dr Hepburn, who was 80, was a member of the Portlethen and District Pipe Band and a supporter of piping throughout his life.
He pioneered the idea of a ‘seniors’ competition for retired professional pipers and this ran for many years at the Lochaber Gathering in Fort William, with generous sponsorship coming from Hugh’s own pocket.
He was also the owner of a gold plated set of pipes which reputedly cost £10,500 ($15,000).
He had silver shields fitted to the drones and these he had engraved with the Battle Honours and names of successive Pipe Majors of his old regiment, the Gordon Highlanders.
He was a one time student at the New England Pipe & Drum Academy in the US and would visit relatives in the Boston area after attending the school. He was popular with instructors and students alike and everyone enjoyed listening to his stories of an evening.
An obituary in the Press & Journal newspaper read: ‘Aberdeen-born Dr Hugh Hepburn dedicated his life to helping the ill and vulnerable around him. He himself was born into poverty, in 1940, as the second eldest of eight Granite City children.
‘And that led Mr Hepburn to drop out of school aged 15 to take up jobs to support his family. He swiftly displayed an entrepreneurial streak as the future doctor would wheel a barrow filled with fruit and veg around the city to sell door-to-door.
‘At the age of 19, he joined the Gordon Highlanders and was stationed to Germany, where his love of music and skills with the bagpipes led him to join the regiment’s pipe band.
‘He’d been winning awards for piping from the age of 11 and that love of music continued throughout his entire life, as he was playing into his twilight years with Portlethen and District pipe band.
‘After leaving the military, aged 22, he set about gaining the qualifications needed to become a medical doctor. He attended night school and gained a place at Aberdeen University’s medical school, graduating in 1974 before working in a range of settings including A&E in Aberdeen and in Falkirk, Perth and Gibraltar.
‘And he also practised as a GP in Forfar before setting up Aberdeen Medical Services in 1990. He did so with colleague Iain MacAskill and eldest son Mark, who described his father as “a one off” whose own father’s skills as a flyweight boxer taught him to ‘never give up’….
‘Pairing his love of boxing and medicine, until a year ago Dr Hepburn served as a medical professional at amateur bouts across Scotland. Dr Hepburn died on May 8 in Aberdeen’s Royal Infirmary, after a short battle with Myeloma, a form of blood cancer. He is survived by his three children, Mark, Fiona and Stuart and his wife Betty.’