Editor’s Blog: Jimmy Hardie/ L&B Police 1975/ Funeral Row/ Hugh at Silver Chanter

I had forgotten what a superb player Jimmy Hardie was until a video recording of a recital he gave in Canada in 1985 (see picture above) was pointed out to me on Facebook. There, thanks to Jim Barrie, was Jimmy in all his musical glory playing as well as any piper you will hear today, no exaggeration.

The piping stars were aligned for Jim, born unto Bob Hardie and his wife Betty in 1955. He was a natural player and listening to him we hear all the economy of finger, subtlety of phrasing and pointing so reminiscent of the father.

Not many trophies bear Jimmy’s name, but here is testament once more that not all the great players are writ large on silverware. I first met him when, in 1968, his father brought him to that cradle of musical excellence which was my Boys Brigade company pipe band, the 214 Glasgow. There was young Jim in short trousers carrying his own pipes! (We were loaned ours by the company.)

He startled me when I first heard him play at the RSPBA solos in the Pearce Institute in Govan the following year aged 14. I had never heard anything quite like his marches. On leaving the BB he joined us at Muirheads for a couple of years before he left for Canada.

Trawl Fb and you’ll find the recording I’m sure, (no link could I find)*. Well worth the effort. Jim B, if you are reading this, please forward any more info you have of that telling night in Red Deer, Alberta.

* Thanks to reader Alan Clark for the link.

Grateful to Alistair Aitken for the names on the Lothian & Borders Police picture we ran last week. Alistair writes: ‘You asked for the names of those in the photograph of the Lothian & Borders Police Pipe Band which won the World Championships in Corby in 1975.  They are as follows:

Front row (from left): John Mackintosh, Colin Forbes, Martin Wilson and George Lumsden.
Standing (from left): Iain McLeod, Ian Watt (Leading Drummer), Alex Shand, John Drysdale, John Murphy, Chris Anderson, Ronnie Ackroyd (with glengarry), Jack Wield (Bass Drummer), Tom Ritchie (hidden behind Jack Wield), Drew Laurie, Duncan Smith, Michael Dow, myself (hidden behind Harry McNulty), Harry  McNulty and Jimmy Hermiston.

The players of course were the same band which, prior to regionalisation earlier that year, was the Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band.

Every piper should have this book!

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As if families are not having to go through enough just now when trying to arrange funerals….. This from the Press & Journal newspaper: ‘Families planning to have a piper at their loved one’s burial will need permission from Highland Council, according to draft new rules….

‘The draft rules…..were branded ‘petty and ridiculous’ by a former piper during an emotional debate at the communities and place meeting. Retired piper, Councillor Roddy Balfour, added: ‘I’ve played at plenty of funerals. This is making fools of us in the eyes of the wider world.

‘Army manuals are full of instructions for pipers playing at funerals, and often an army officer is detailed to play at a funeral.’

Councillor Duncan Macpherson asked if a family member who decided to play unannounced would be in breach of a by-law, while Dingwall councillor Margaret Paterson said she had been at the funeral of someone who used to play the mouth organ. She said: ‘Suddenly someone took out a moothie and started playing a tune, you couldn’t stop them. This has to be worded more gently.’

Gordon Adam, member for the Black Isle, asked if it was really necessary. He said: ‘Often a piper is at a funeral, I can’t think why prior notice should be given of that.’

God save us from the bureaucrats and I hope the good people of the north remember the outcome when they next go into the polling booth. Thanks to those who forwarded the cutting.

This from the Oban Times circa 1968: ‘The annual Silver Chanter competition was held in Skye’s historic Dunvegan Castle on Friday. The coveted trophy, presented by Dame Flors MacLeod of MacLeod, was competed for by the leading exponents of piobaireachd and was won for the second successive year by Mr Hugh MacCallum from the Bridge of Earn [sic] who played Rory MacLeod’s Lament.

‘Mr MacCallum had, the previous day, won the Clasp competition at the Isle of Skye Highland Games, the major piping trophy of the games which is restricted to winners of the Dunvegan Medal.

Late 60s, Portree, and Hugh plays for DR and Angus MacPherson, Invershin

‘Dame Flora, who described the pipers taking part as ‘ten beautiful people, the cream of piping’, confirmed .that recorded highlights of the evening will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on August 25.

‘The judges, Mr James F. Campbell, Cambridge, and Mr DR MacLennan, who stood in at short notice, placed the competitors in the following order of merit: 2 William MacDonald, Benbecula, The Earl of Ross’s March, 3 P/M Robert Brown, Balmoral (ex-Queen’s Piper), The Glen is Mine, 4 Duncan MacFadyen, Rutherglen, Lament for the Only Son. Mr John MacFadyen was Chairman for the evening.’

6 thoughts on “Editor’s Blog: Jimmy Hardie/ L&B Police 1975/ Funeral Row/ Hugh at Silver Chanter

    1. Your article mentions Angus MacPherson. I have a photo of Pipe Major Willie Ross grand daughter sitting on his knee while he is playing his chanter outside his hotel. The baby is under a year old so I wonder if any of Angus MacPherson’s relatives would like a copy. Kindest regards, Mrs Alexander.

      1. Please forward a copy of the picture if you are so minded Mrs Alexander. I am sure it will be of interest to readers. Robert Wallace

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