Editor’s Notebook: Jim Butler/ Weekend Contests/ Patricia Grant/ Captain John Contest

It is with sadness I report the passing of piper and artist Jim Butler, North Ayrshire. Jim was a head art teacher and a painter of renown, so much so that he was able to hold successful exhibitions of his work. He also taught pipes in North Ayrshire schools for seven years and was a staunch member of Irvine Burns Club.

He was a regular visitor to the College of Piping and when I was looking for a cost effective way of creating a Benefactors’ Board to display in the foyer of our new building in Otago Street, Jim stepped forward to offer his services as an expert calligrapher free of charge. I don’t know if his work is still on display; it should be.

Jim was a thorough gentleman at all times and gave pleasure and contentment to all who met him. He travelled widely and for many years enjoyed playing for the National Trust for Scotland on their cruises around northern shores, sometimes beyond the Arctic Circle. Up smart and early to welcome everyone on board, or to pipe the ship into a new port, Jim set many an elderly lady’s heart a-fluttering with his charm and good looks.

Jim’s funeral details: Holmsford Bridge Crematorium, Dreghorn, Irvine, KA11 4EF, 24th March 2022 @ 3:30pm with tea following at the Gailes Hotel, Marine Drive, Irvine, KA11 5AE.

Tomorrow we will really begin to feel that piping is getting back to normal. We have ‘live’ contests in both Glasgow and Edinburgh.

In the capital it is the Archie Kenneth Quaich for amateur piobaireachd from 9am in the Scots Guards Club, Haymarket. Here is the draw:

Meanwhile over in ‘dear ol’ Glesca toon’ we will have the Duncan Johnstone Memorial for junior professionals in the Piping Centre. I am told there has been a switch with the ‘C’ grade now at McPhater Street and the ‘Bs’ at Otago. Results from all events when we get them.


North-east correspondent Duncan Watson: The funeral of Patricia Grant took place on Wednesday, 10th March and Highland games enthusiasts were prominent among the congregation.

Patricia was a very committed volunteer on all aspects of the games and took part in wider Scottish studies including Gaelic and Doric tongues. She was Secretary of her local Tomintoul Games and was on the committee of the Royal Scottish Highland Games Association.

Apparently she would use the doric vernacular at such meetings with bits of Gaelic thrown in and some members from the south would respond ‘what the h… is she saying?’  She had very wide interests and to say she will be sorely missed as an organiser is an understatement.  In her Highland games involvement she administered the Grampian Piping League sponsored by John Milne, Auctioneers, Aberdeen.

Listing all of her involvements would be too extensive here but were touched on at the service. Fittingly, Pipe Major Ben Duncan of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (pictured), resplendent in full uniform, played tunes at the graveside which Patricia had requested.

It is not out of place to remember here Finlay Walker, also a regular at Tomintoul Games, who passed away the day before Patricia. 


I hear that the Eagle Pipers’ Society are considering taking over the running of the Captain John MacLellan MBE Memorial Competition held in Edinburgh each August. 

This showpiece event sees a handful of top players playing the Captain’s compositions in plush surroundings, with guests enjoying a sumptuous dinner. Despite support from the William Grant Foundation, finances are usually touch and go.

Captain John was one of the founders of the Eagles and it would be fitting, all things considered, if the Society were to assume the organisation of a contest in his name.


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1 thought on “Editor’s Notebook: Jim Butler/ Weekend Contests/ Patricia Grant/ Captain John Contest

  1. Hi Rab, So sorry to hear about Jim Butler. Lovely man and you summed him up very well. Knew him from Pipers’ Whisky Pipe Band/Seagrams in the late 70s when he was P/Sgt With Eddie MacAtear as P/M. Always charming and someone to aspire to. A lovely guy who I will miss. Jim Begg

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