Editor’s Notebook: Balloch Games/ Over 50s Contest/ Piping Tutor/ Contests and Seminar/ Eilidh’s Trust

Balloch no more

The news that Balloch Games has been scrapped is both disappointing and bewildering. Disappointing because this was always a popular games right at the start of the Glasgow Fair holidays, this year on July 13.

Balloch launched a full week of other piping competitions at the likes of Inveraray, Lochearnhead, Tobermory, Luss (before the day was changed), and the island games.

It’s bewildering because the crowds at the wee town at the foot of Loch Lomond were always very large, full of day trippers, tourists and locals. Surely cash can’t have been the problem? Yet it seems so.

West Dunbartonshire Council, like all councils in Scotland, are struggling for money. They say they can no longer afford to sponsor the games. (£14,000 last year.)

A very small amount. Has anyone calculated the return? Still we can’t be too hard on them. They are the council that stages the annual Scottish Pipe Band Championships at Dumbarton. When other local authorities failed us on the pipe band front, WDC stood strong.

The Scottish go ahead this 27th July at Levengrove Park. Entry is free. Maybe they should charge a small admission fee and put the money towards Balloch 2025?

MacRaeBanner ’19
Ayrshire Bagpipes Nov 2020
shepherd banner ’22


To celebrate its 60th Anniversary, the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association is running a composing competition. They are looking for a simple 2/4/ 3/4 or 4/4 march. Deadline is July 4. First prize $500. The tune will be played at EUSPBA AGM in December and will become part of the Association’s massed bands repertoire. The competition is only open to members. They will be notified soon about the entry procedure.

I was intrigued to read that the EUSPBA is pressing ahead with its new over 50s piping competition category. The EUSPBA say: ‘This grade was created to allow older Grade 3, 2, 1, Open competitors to compete.’

What a laudable idea. Over here the over-50 amateur pipers have the Archie Kenneth Quaich and CLASP events to take part in, but we have nothing for the ageing professional.

Some will remember Dr Hugh Hepburn sponsoring just such an event at the Lochaber Gathering 20 or 30 years ago. I remember hearing John Burgess and Ronald Lawrie playing in it and playing well too. Might there be scope for its re-introduction?

Hugh Hepburn

Piping Tutor

The Scottish School P&D Trust are looking for a piping teacher for central Edinburgh. ‘Must be able to teach to SCQF Level 6 with knowledge of PDQB and Curriculum for Excellence, have experience of teaching young people of varying ages in groups as well as one to one,  and experience of running a pipe band. Contact info@sspdt.org.uk

Piping Weekend

A very busy weekend of piping ahead. Today sees the Donald MacLeod Memorial in Stornoway and tomorrow the Scottish Pipers Professional contest at the Piping Centre in Glasgow. The latter has a very large entry so a full day of quality piping can be anticipated. Entry is £5 at the door of McPhater Street. Results as we get them.

On Sunday we have the annual Judges Seminar run by the Piobaireachd Society. Here invited adjudicators lead the discussion on specific tunes which have been set for the major competition at this year’s Argyllshire Gathering and Northern Meeting.

Wisely the organisers have avoided tunes already featured in the Society’s ‘Talk Piobaireachd’ sessions. It means there’s no doubling up and a far wider selection of tunes is covered. Competitors should be re-assured by all this ‘continuous professional development’ being undertaken by solo adjudicators.

Eilidh’s Trust

Young musicians – pipers included – have until midnight on 30th April to apply to the Eilidh MacLeod Memorial Trust for financial support. Applications should be made via Eilidh’s Trust’s new look website.

The trust supports music education for young people reflecting Eilidh’s own love of piping with her school band on Barra. Eilidh (14) died in the Manchester terrorist attack in 2017.

Trust founder, Suzanne White said: ‘So far we have made over 60 grant payments to a wide variety of groups and individuals from singers, choirs and pipe bands to orchestras and brass bands.’


1 thought on “Editor’s Notebook: Balloch Games/ Over 50s Contest/ Piping Tutor/ Contests and Seminar/ Eilidh’s Trust

  1. The Scottish Executive can afford to donate half a million pounds to a country that can afford its own nuclear weapons programme while our own native culture withers for want of cash. Puzzling indeed.

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