High standards at piping society competition despite Covid break

Line up of trophy winners. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.

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Just days after the relaxation of Covid rules in Scotland, Lochaber Piping Society hosted two successful events – a piping recital on Friday evening and its junior piping and drumming competition on Saturday.

The recital was held in Fort William Shinty Club which proved an excellent venue and attracted an enthusiastic audience of around 65.

The evening kicked off with an excellent performance by Lochaber’s Angus Nicolson who then slipped into the role of fear an tigh introducing Craig Muirhead, John Dew and Connor Sinclair who continued to entertain throughout the evening.

The three guest players had been invited to adjudicate at the next day’s event – the Junior Piping and Drumming Competition – along with Euan Dewar from Oban and Cameron Lawson from Glasgow.

The competition is an annual event run by the society to encourage the playing of bagpipes in Lochaber and to help improve playing standards by allowing entrants to compete against their peers from further afield and to socialise with like-minded youngsters.

This year, the competition was held in the Gaelic Primary School in Caol and what a spectacular setting, with its view of Ben Nevis and the neighbouring hills.

The Covid pandemic meant this was the resumption of the event with the last one being held in 2019. For most of the 43 entrants, the competition was their first ‘in-person’ event for more than two years.

Most participants entered multiple classes within the competition which resulted in 128 actual performances by youngsters ranging in age from 10 to 18 years. The geographical spread of entrants ranged from Dumfries to Uig on Skye, from Peterculter to Lochgilphead and Mull to Benbecula such was the pent-up enthusiasm for a return to this type of event.

Many entrants had attended this event previously with some new faces making an appearance.

Adjudicators all commented on the high standards of playing throughout the age groups and different classes, confirming the amount of practice that had been put in over the break.

The feedback from competitors and their parents was also extremely encouraging and, judging by the happy faces and chatter on the day, a good time was enjoyed by everyone. The society already has its sights on next year’s competition.

Of course, events like this don’t just happen and society members, along with others, worked hard to organise and run it.

Ken Cameron of Lochaber Piping Society said: ‘Support both locally and from further afield has been tremendous. Without it, the competition would not be able to be held.’

The society is indebted to the following for financial support and for the provision of prizes-in-kind: Jahama Highland Estates, The Piobaireachd Society, The National Piping Centre, McCallum Bagpipes, Pipe Dreams and R G Hardie and Co.

Full results can be found on the Lochaber Piping Society Facebook page.


NO_F13_Piping Trophy winners: Line up of trophy winners. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.

NO_F13_Piping Trophy chanter winners: Winners in the chanter competition. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.

NO_F13_Piping Portree winner: Giacomo Cecchini-Fraser from Portee is presented with the Ceol Mor Cup by Morag Melville past chairperson of Lochaber Piping Society. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.

NO_F13_Piping Laura Robertson 01: Laura Robertson with her clutch of trophies. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.

NO_F13_Piping Jahama Trophy winner 01: Jahama Trophy winner Fraser Hamilton. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.

NO_F13_Piping Chanter winner Jamie Smith: Lord Dulverton Cup winner, Jamie Smith from Fort William. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.

NO_F13_Piping chanter Quaich Bethany MacIntosh: Carmichael Quaich winner Bethany MacIntosh., Elgol. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos.