A New Tune for Major John M. Allan MBE

Earlier this month, seven former pipers from the Queen’s Own Highlanders visited Major John Allan MBE at Castlehill Care Home, Cradlehall, Inverness.

The purpose of the visit was to present John, now 89, with a new piobaireachd as a thank you for all that he did for those Army pipers who had the good fortune to attend the various courses run at the Army School of Bagpipe Music (ASBM), Edinburgh Castle, during John’s tenure as the Director of Army Bagpipe Music.

By P/M DJ MacIntyre

The piobaireachd, aptly named Salute to Major John M Allan MBE (1st Battalion The Queen’s Own Highlanders), was composed by Niall Matheson, double Gold medallist and a highly accomplished piper and composer.

Present with Niall were Finlay MacGhee, Donald John MacIntyre, Jimmy Craib, John Archie MacDonald, Jim Stout and Kelvin Hunter, along with John’s wife Jean and their sons John and Gary and grandsons Robert and Paul.

Major Allan receives a framed copy of his tune from Niall

A top class player in his own right, John mentored hundreds of Army pipers through the Class 1 Piper’s Course, Piobaireachd Course and the renowned Army Pipe Major’s Course.

His unique manner, guiding, mentoring and advising, has left its mark on all of us who had the privilege to have been tutored by him.

John’s memory was remarkable. He had this unique ability to remember every Pipe Major’s Course he ran, who was on it, what tunes they played on their final ‘play off’, and of course all of the stories – and there were many – pertaining to those potential Pipe Majors.

We all owe John a great debt of gratitude and sincerely thank him for all that he has done for us. We salute you Major John Allan. ‘Cabar Feidh gu Brath‘.  

Paying tribute to Major Allan, l to r: DJ MacIntyre, Jimmy Stout, Kelvin Hinter, John, Niall Matheson, Finlay MacGhee, James Craib and John Archie MacDonald

Have a listen to the ground and first variation of the tune as played by Niall:

Here is a copy of the tune:

Directors of the Army School, instituted at the instigation of the Piobaireachd Society as the Army Class in 1910:

  • P/M John MacDonald, Inverness 1910-1914
  • P/M John Grant 1914-1918
  • P/M William Ross (Scots Guards), 1919-1957
  • P/M George Stoddart (Royal Highland Fusiliers), 1958
  • P/M Donald MacLeod (Seaforth Highlanders), 1959
  • Captain John MacLellan (Queen’s Own Highlanders), 1959-1976 (the first to hold the title ‘Director’)
  • Captain Andrew Pitkeathly (Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders), 1976-1981
  • Major John Allan (Queen’s Own Highlanders), 1981–1990
  • Major Gavin Stoddart (Royal Highland Fusiliers), 1990–2003
  • Captain Stuart Samson (The Highlanders), 2003–2007
  • Major Steven Small (Black Watch), 2007–2016
  • Major Gordon Rowan (5th Batt. (Argylls) Royal Regiment of Scotland (2016 – )

4 thoughts on “A New Tune for Major John M. Allan MBE

  1. To Jock Allan

    Thank you for your kindness in 1980s. Enjoyed calls and the odd trip to the Castle. Best wishes to you – and what a nice tribute.

    James Begg

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