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Turriff Pipe Band’s online competition attracts entries from across the globe while paying poignant tribute to late Aberdeen piper

Turriff Pipe Band pipe sergeant Owen Chalmers, pipe major Andrew Gray and the late John Lawson.
Turriff Pipe Band pipe sergeant Owen Chalmers, pipe major Andrew Gray and the late John Lawson.

A north-east pipe band has unveiled the winners of its online solo competition while paying tribute to a much-missed former member.

Turriff and District Pipe Band should have just concluded its first competition season in grade 3a following its major championship wins last year.

But with its season cancelled and with it the usual practices, solo events and public engagements, the band instead hosted its first online solo piping and drumming competition.

More than 200 musicians from across not only the north-east and UK, but Germany, Canada and New Zealand too, had their entries critiques by  a team of world championship-winning pipers and drummers from across Scotland.

They watched around 600 videos of sticks and pad, chanter, pipes and drums performances before Pipe Major Andrew Gray announced the winners on an online live broadcast.

Mr Gray, a piping teacher across the region’s schools, said:  “I was absolutely blown away by the standard of the entries, which came from across the globe and gave us prize winners from New Zealand and South Africa.

“Our award-winning judging panel grew as more entries came in and getting it all turned round quickly is a tribute them.”

Jonathon Simpson, Kes Kunze and Eilidh Ferries were the overall winners of the open piping, snare drumming and tenor drumming, respectively, but there were plenty of north-east pipers and drummers in the prize lists too.

“I was ecstatic to see a number of our band members pick up prizes and make up the finals of a number of events,” Mr Gray added.

“Special congratulations should go to our snare drummer Hollie Chalmers, who won the Overall U17 champion in a very strong field.

“The support we have from around Turriff is amazing and without it we would not be able to continue as we do.”

The competition also proved a chance for the band to pay tribute to their former piper John Lawson, who died after a short illness, aged 72, last September.

The John Lawson Memorial Cup was won by Edinburgh piper Rachel Gray, with Mr Lawson’s son Jeff supporting the event too and placing third in that category.

The band’s honorary president Pat Gauld added: “We have to thank all those whose entries have helped keep the interest in piping and drumming going and to all the sponsors who have helped make this competition a good one.

“It is something new and this is maybe something that we will look forward to in the future.”

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