Strong Argyll presence as Edinburgh piper, Iain Speirs, takes The Glenfiddich twice in a row

Iain Speirs, last year’s winner of the annual Glenfiddich Piping Championship, did it again yesterday, 26th October, at Blair Castle – with the added glory of taking the 40th anniversary championship.

Speirs had nine competitors at Blair Atholl, together the ten best performing pipers in the past year.

The ten competing pipers in the 2013 Glenfiddich were:

  • Callum Beaumont
  • Alan Bevan
  • Cameron Drummond
  • Alastair Dunn
  • Bruce Gandy
  • Jack Lee
  • Stuart Liddell
  • William McCallum
  • Angus MacColl
  • Iain Speirs

A major award yesterday went to Ian McKerral, Pipe Major of the Kintyre Schools Pipe Band. He was honoured in the award of the Balvenie Medal for Services to Piping, for his work in the Campbeltown area in resurrecting piping and drumming since 2000.

Argyll always makes its presence felt in piping and yesterday was no different. Of the ten Glenfiddich competitiors, three are from Argyll:

  • Angus MacColl is Pipe Major of the Oban HIgh School Pipe Band;
  • William McCallum is from Campbeltown, now competing from Bearsden;
  • Stuart Liddell is Pipe major of the Inveraray and District Pipe Band.

Yesterday Start Liddell took second place in The Glendfiddich and William McCallulm, third.  Stuart Liddle won the Glenfiddich for the first time in 2009.

Willie McCallum’s record in the championships is arguably the best of all. He has won it eight times and sometimes serially,

He won first in 1990. He won again in 1993 and 1994. He did a triple, winning  in 1999, 2000 and 2001. And he won in 2006 and 2007. this means that he has been a winner over a period of 17 years. Phenomenal. The nearest to him is Roddy McLeod from Glasgow who has won four times – in 1992, 1997, 2002 and 2011. And next is Angus MacColl. Angus has previously won the Glenfiddich three times, over a period of fifteen year, in 1995, 2006 and 2010,

The piping tradition in Argyll is  not just to be found in the number and quality of our pipe bands across mainland and islands. It is in our solo pipers. It is noteworthy that of the ten best in 2013, competing yesterday, many of them are or have been taught by Argyll tutors.

Argyll was represented yesterday on the other side of the championships – in the judging.

The Fear an Tighe – or Chair of the event  – was John Wilson from Campbeltown.

Of the six discipline judges, two are recognisably from Argyll:

  • Iain MacFadyen, of Tiree/ Mull extraction, judging on the March, Strathspey & Reel
  • Ronnie MacShannon, from Campbeltown, judging in the Piobaireachd, where Iain Speirs is said to have excelled in his performance of Colin Roy Mackenzie, for which he was awarded first place in that discipline.

Jack Lee, of the renowned Simon Fraser University Pipe Band from Vancouver in British Columbia, took first in the March Srathspey and Reel.

The Glenfiddich Distillery

Glenfiddich is not only the sponsor of the prestigious annual Championships in the pipes and the fiddle – being contested today, 27th October. It is a unique feature on the celebrated landscape of Scottish whisky distilling.

It’s still largely a family business – the Grants. It has resolutely resisted being bought out by the global drinks conglomerates, like the ubiquitous Diageo. Long may that last.

Through the piping and fiddle championships, Glenfiddich is a race mark in the Scottish cultural stream, also sponsors the Spirit of Scotland Awards.

When Glenfiddich gave an award last year – the result of a public vote – to Michael Forbes, the well known and redoubtable protester against the imposition of a golf course at the Balmedie Dunes on the Aberdeenshire coast, the developer, Donald Trump, took them to noisy task.

They declined to engage, respecting the validity of the public vote – and the award stayed as presented.

Trump’s response was to announce that Glenfiddich products would not again be available at his establishments. Glenfiddich remains unmoved.

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3 Responses to Strong Argyll presence as Edinburgh piper, Iain Speirs, takes The Glenfiddich twice in a row

  1. It’s a fantastic advertisement for top-end piping talent. I must get along to the actual event some year soon, but at least there’s now excellent live-streaming, provided by the Piping Centre.

    Congratulations to all involved, especially the Argyll piping community. And so good to see Ian McKerral get this level of recognition for the excellent work he’s done.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. Excellent article on the History of the Glenfiddich and Argylls great part in it.
    One wee correction though.Angus MacColl is not the Pipe Major of Oban Pipe Band that responsibility lies with Ewan Dewar who has led them to Grade 2 in a short space of time Angus MacColl is the Pipe Major of the 70 plus youngsters who make up the two Oban High School Pipe Bands at Novice and Juvenile levels .The latter he led to World Champions in 2010.

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