Pipers head for sunny Fort for first Lochaber Gathering since lockdown

Top winners from left are Ben Duncan (in the red kilt), who won the P/A Grade Piobaireachd, and was awarded The Gold Axe (An Tuagh Oir). He also won the Open 6-8 March competition, and awarded The Moidart Quaich; Calum Watson who won the P/A Grade March, Strathspey and Reel, winning The Robin Fleming Award (The Lochaber Medal). He also won the Open Hornpipe and Jig and awarded The Lochaber Gathering Shield; Ross Miller won the B/C Grade Piobaireachd, and awarded The Silver Axe (An Tuagh Argaid) and also the B/C Grade March, Strathspey and Reel, awarded the Clydesdale Bank trophy. Missing is Gordon McCready, who the Best P/A Grade Strathspey and Reel, and awarded the Leek’s Taxis Trophy. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO F36 Lochaber Gathering 01
Top winners from left are Ben Duncan (in the red kilt), who won the P/A Grade Piobaireachd, and was awarded The Gold Axe (An Tuagh Oir). He also won the Open 6-8 March competition, and awarded The Moidart Quaich; Calum Watson who won the P/A Grade March, Strathspey and Reel, winning The Robin Fleming Award (The Lochaber Medal). He also won the Open Hornpipe and Jig and awarded The Lochaber Gathering Shield; Ross Miller won the B/C Grade Piobaireachd, and awarded The Silver Axe (An Tuagh Argaid) and also the B/C Grade March, Strathspey and Reel, awarded the Clydesdale Bank trophy. Missing is Gordon McCready, who the Best P/A Grade Strathspey and Reel, and awarded the Leek’s Taxis Trophy. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO F36 Lochaber Gathering 01

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The first Lochaber Gathering since lockdown began brought together many of the country’s finest pipers to their new venue, using both screen auditoriums at the Highland Cinema, and in the open air sunshine of Cameron Square in Fort William, writes Iain Ferguson.

Taking full advantage of the beautiful weather, many passers-by, visitors and locals stopped to listen as competitors played below the canopy under the intense scrutiny of judges.

The event was organised by Lochaber Piping Society, which took over from the late Allan MacColl who kept the event going for many years.

The day was a great success, with positive feedback from the public, judges and the competitors, who were extremely happy to have a ‘live’ competition after such a long lay-off due to the pandemic.

Ken Cameron of Lochaber Piping Society said: ‘The society took a brave decision in planning the event from back in February, when everything was in the deep throes of Covid-19 restrictions, lockdowns and uncertainty over everything.

‘A big relief for us has been the reaction of our two big benefactors, The Moidart Trust and The P.F. Charitable Trust. Both Angus MacDonald and Philip Fleming have expressed great satisfaction at how the event went on the day.

‘Maintaining this part of our Highland cultural heritage forms the core of the society’s aims and I believe we made the right decision in picking up where the late Allan MacColl left off and running The Lochaber Gathering, which might otherwise have been lost.

‘Moving the event to the centre of Fort William was also a bold move, but it looks to have paid off as everyone seemed to be very happy with the arrangements.’