Piping competition honours Barra bombing victim

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The world’s biggest school pipe band championships have named a new award after a young Barra piper who died in the Manchester Arena attack.

The Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships have created the Eilidh MacLeod Endeavour Award to as a memorial to the 14-year-old.

The award will go to groups which show perseverance and resilience in the face of challenges as well as those who demonstrate community contribution, enthusiasm and camaraderie, innovation and efforts to include everyone regardless of circumstances.

Eilidh’s father, Roddy MacLeod, said: ‘We were incredibly touched when we were asked by the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships if they could name this exceptional award after Eilidh. It really means a lot to our family to have her memory honoured by the piping community like this, as it was such a big part of her life.’

Eilidh started playing the bagpipes when she was eight and every two weeks would set off  on a two-hour journey including a ferry ride, to train with Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band in Benbecula.

Together with the band, she travelled hundreds of miles from the Outer Hebrides to compete against other groups from around Scotland in the championships.

Mr MacLeod said: ‘It was Eilidh’s idea to start learning to play – she loved the sound of bagpipes. She would always stop to watch buskers and pipers in town and had so much admiration for them. She started playing the practice chanter when she was seven and moved on to bagpipes at the age of eight. She was the youngest one in class when she started.

‘The influence that being a part of a school band had on her was immense – it was shaping her into an amazing young woman. It gave her a way to express herself, become more confident and resilient as well as build long-lasting friendships with other young people from around Scotland.

‘The camaraderie among pipers and drummers is really strong and we could see the positive effect it was having on Eilidh’s life. Having to travel all the way to Benbecula to practice meant she was missing some Fridays at school but she was very diligent in keeping up with her school work because her band practice meant so much to her.’

From quartets to pipe bands, the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships showcase the talent of Scotland’s young musicians with the aim to promote and celebrate the country’s rich musical heritage.

Alexandra Duncan, chief executive of the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT), which organises the event, added: ‘Creating the Eilidh MacLeod Endeavour Award was our way of paying respect to Eilidh as an inspiring young woman and a musician – and keep her memory alive within Scotland’s piping community.

‘We’re really honoured to have Eilidh’s family’s blessing in establishing this important platform and giving recognition to groups who embody the same traits that Eilidh had shown throughout her life.’

Next year’s championships will take place on Sunday March 8  at the William McIlvanney Campus in Kilmarnock and will see hundreds of young people come together for a day of music, friendship and fun.

Entries for the competition – which involves a range of categories for every level – are now being accepted ahead of the closing date in January.

To find out more about the Eilidh MacLeod Endeavour Award go to thechampionships.org.uk/enter-championships/endeavour-award-nomination/