Ed’s Notes: Painting Challenge/ Good News from RSPBA and G’fidd/ Teaching Job/ Mike Haggerty

I must say the standard of paintings we have received for our Lockdown Challenge has been terrific. Witness the above detail from artist Scott Kish. It is of piper Robert Dowson and is in watercolour. The size is 11″ x 15″.

We’ll keep the challenge going till the end of July at which point it will be over to judge Robert Mathieson who has kindly agreed to select the winners. Such is the standard we will have three prizes.

For interest I think we’ll have a reader’s poll too to see if you all agree with P/M Mathieson’s decisions. We’ll naturally keep the first confidential until Robert’s done his work and the announcement made.

Here is Scott’s picture in full size:

Good news on at least two fronts in the past few days. The first came from the RSPBA who confirmed their financial stability and readiness for the 2021 season, the new building paid for and grants in place to offset the revenue loss from this year.

The HQ building itself is a valuable asset for the Association and will underpin its activities for many years to come. Without the vital remedial work it risked being condemned and sold off for a pittance, so well done to the Board of Directors for taking the bold decision to stretch themselves financially and get the work done.

The second piece of good news is that the Glenfiddich Championship is going ahead. Shame there will be no live audience and I suspect that four months from now, when it takes place, this could be seen as being super precautionary. However there will probably have been insurance and other issues to contend with of which I know not.

The G’fidd go-ahead augurs well for other contests. Could the Argyllshire Gathering follow them by holding all or some of their indoor events in such a format? The AG is still two months off remember. Equally, what would be wrong with having the outdoor contests too? Covid and all other infections are of minimal transmission risk al fresco.

Current Glenfiddich Champion Finlay Johnston is pictured here at the last live contest of 2020, the Uist and Barra. Finlay was presented with the prestigious Glasgow Highland Club Medal for first in ceòl mòr by the Club’s Jim Dougall

I wonder if other contests will be thinking that they pulled the plug too early? Of course it is easy to sit here now and say so. Back in the fervid plague days of March and April the cancellation bandwagon could not, understandably, be halted. Fear stalked the land and everyone did what they thought was the right thing to do at the time.

The Highland tourist season now officially opens on July 15 and it is such a shame that there will be no Highland games for visitors – if there are any – to enjoy.

East Lothian Council are looking for a piping instructor for their primary and secondary schools. The position is part time, 21 hours per week. The pay range is £28,809 – £38,292 per year pro rata.

Days of work are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and the job starts in August. The spec: ‘To teach pupils individually or in groups …to develop musical literacy, aural awareness and promote interest in music making through group playing’. Applications close on July 7. Here is the link

Mairi Hunter writes: ‘My son came across your article regarding Mike Haggerty [above]. I forwarded it to the family in Scotland. By the way Mike is my uncle and I live in New Zealand. I had different members of the family who were visiting Australia call me to ask if I knew where he was buried so I get the impression they were not notified. I have happy memories of him staying with us when we were young. He made us pancakes and took us fishing.

‘You have the wrong parents. My grandparents were John Haggerty and Annie Johnson. Now I did not pay a lot attention to my different uncles’ jobs but I remember Mike was a warrant officer and a pipe major. I believe he was  probably more likely to have been born in 19 something then 18?

‘I seriously don’t believe I am of much help but felt compelled to get in touch if for no other reason then to say thank you for marking his grave. It is a very kind and generous gesture from strangers. All the family who would have known a lot more have passed.’

Well, thank you for getting in touch Mairi. Read Denis Browning’s original story on Mike Haggerty, ‘South Uist’s Forgotten Piper’, here.

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