Inaugural piping competition hits a positive note

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Scotland’s finest young bagpipers took centre stage at the inaugural Argyllshire Gathering Trust Youth Intermediate Championship held in the glorious setting of Lochnell Castle on Saturday.

To celebrate 150 years since its inauguration, the Argyllshire Gathering created the
new competition to give professional solo pipers under the age of 22 across Scotland a platform to showcase their abilities on an international scale and provide a step up to the senior competitions.

The championship brought together 10 of Scotland’s finest Intermediate players:
Bobby Allen (Lanarkshire), Ruairidh Brown (Dunblane), Finlay Cameron (Roybridge), Ross Conner (Campbeltown), Hamish Drennan (Drumnadrochit), Andrew Ferguson (Dollar), Luke Kennedy (Strathaven), Cameron May (Dillarburn), Anna Smart (Dunfermline), Brodie Watson-Massey (Edinburgh).

Campbeltown’s John Wilson, senior adjudicator at the SPJA and Master of Ceremonies at the championship said: ‘My father taught lots and lots of young people and he always used to say that they are the lifeblood of the art form.

‘That is very much my attitude. It is important that we give the younger generation the opportunity to express themselves and develop. It is especially important with piping because it is a huge part of our heritage.’

Held in the Chapel at Lochnell Castle, near Benderloch, with the kind permission of the Earl of Dundonald and hosted by his son Lord Archie Cochrane, the event was declared a resounding success by all who took part.

Ross Connor, also from Campbeltown, took second in the March, Strathspey and Reel (MSR) section and told us he was ‘inspired by the setting’.

‘It was one of the best places I have ever performed in,’ he said.

‘The setting was amazing and the sound inside the chapel fantastic. We have all had a really great day.’

A product of Kintyre Schools Pipe Band teaching programme, 18-year-old Ross has been piping for nine years and is now a member of the Grade Two Islay Pipe Band.

Ross has also won numerous awards around the main junior events, including winning the Duke of Argyll’s Gold Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering four times. He won Intermediate MSR at the Gathering in 2019 and third prize in the MacGregor Memorial in 2020.

On a personal note, he participates in many events in the Campbeltown area to raise funds for charity and has recently become a volunteer crewman on the Campletown lifeboat.

The championship itself consisted of two stages: a Piobaireachd competition followed by the MSR competition. Judges for both events were Ian Duncan, Archie Maclean and Robert Wallace.

Medals were awarded for the first three winners of both competitions with the overall winner, Andrew Ferguson from Dollar having the highest cumulative points.

Results

Piobaireachd: 1, Andrew Ferguson; 2, Ruairidh Brown; 3, Hamish Drennan.

MSR: 1, Andrew Ferguson, 2, Ross Connor; 3, Finlay Cameron.

Sponsors of the first Lochnell Youth Intermediate Championship were The Piobaireachd Society, The Royal Scottish Pipers Society, the Duncan Louis Stewart Foundation, JLS Lonsdale Charitable Trust, Foundation Scotland and Andrew Holman, Kilfinichen Estate.