The composing competition for a tune to mark next year’s 150th Anniversay of the Argyllshire Gathering has been won by ex-Scots Guards Pipe Major Iain Lowther.
Iain receives the only prize of £1,000 and a certificate marking his achievement. His tune was the unanimous choice of the judging panel comprising P/M James Banks MBE, Robert Wallace, President of the Piobaireachd Society and Editor of Piping Press, and John Wilson formerly Strathclyde Police and Convenor of the RSPBA’s Adjudicators Panel. All three are members of the Argyllshire Gathering Piping Committee.
They sifted through 62 entries which were sent to them under strict anonymity by Argyllshire Gathering Piping Steward Mr Torquil Telfer. Mr Telfer said: ‘Congratulations to Iain and our sincere thanks to the judges who had a very difficult time selecting the winning tune from entries from around the piping world.
‘We are very grateful to all those who submitted tunes for the competition to mark what is a historic occasion for the Gathering. The tune will be played by the competing pipers on the march to the Games field next year and thereafter, though it will not replace the tune traditionally heard as the pipers and stewards enter the games field, the Argyllshire Gathering by John MacColl.
‘I am sure Iain’s tune will prove very popular with pipers and the piping public. There are other events associated with the Anniversary which we are planning and these will be announced later.’
The winning composer said: ‘Well it’s great news. I’m chuffed to bits. I’m immensely proud to be have chosen as the winner of the competition for such a prestigious event and organisation.’
Argyllshire Gathering Senior Steward, Ms Helen Malcolm QC, donated the prize and has decided to call the tune ‘Dr Whittow’s Salute to the 150th Argyllshire Gathering’. The late Dr Whittow had a strong connection with the Gathering.
Ms Malcolm said: ‘I am so pleased that we have been able to contribute to something positive in the piping world in these strange times; there was a large and strong field of contenders, and a most excellent winner.
‘The name chosen for the tune pays tribute both to the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Argyllshire Gathering in 1871, and to a staunch and generous Argyll enthusiast.’
Here is Iain’s winning tune:
Mr Telfer added: ‘We asked Champion Piper Stuart Liddell to record the tune for us and he kindly agreed. He has done it perfect justice.’
Here is Stuart’s rendition of the tune:
The winning composer is originally from Carlisle, Cumbria, and started piping at 12 yrs old receiving tuition from his local pipe band. He joined the Scots Guards in 1984 completing his training at the Guards Depot in Pirbright. During this time he was taught by P/M Dixie Ingram at the Guards Depot Piping School where he completed his first Edinburgh Tattoo in 1985.
Iain joined the 1st Battalion Scots Guards soon after and served with the Regiment for 26yrs, being posted in Pirbright, Germany, Windsor, Edinburgh, Wellington Bks in London, several tours of Northern Ireland and the Gulf War.
He served under SG P/Ms Rodgers, MacInnes, Webster, MacKinnon, Donaldson and Selwood. During this time Iain played for most members of the Royal Family, as well as Presidents and Heads of State of several countries. He passed his Army Pipe Majors Course at Edinburgh Castle under the direction of Maj Gavin Stoddart MBE, BEM in 1997, and was appointed Pipe Major of the Regiment in 2006 after a year as Pipe Sgt at the Army School.
Iain had may highlights during his Army career playing in and leading the band during tours and Tattoos all around the world, competitions, concerts and many a Beating Retreat and Trooping the Colour.
After leaving the Army in 2010, Iain worked for five years with CVQO an education charity delivering and assessing BTEC Music Diplomas. During this time he also became a volunteer with the Army Cadet Force and took a role as a PMaj Advisor for the Tri Service Cadet Force Pipes and Drums. In 2014 he took over the position as Chief Instructor/Training Officer, and was promoted to Captain in December of that year. This is a role that he continues in today.
Iain is a qualified PDQB Assessor up to Level 8, and holds the PDQB Tutor and Teaching Certificates. He currently sits on the PDQB board, and is the P/M of the Scots Guards Association Pipes & Drums (Scotland). He is also a registered tutor with the National Piping Centre.