One of the most illustrious piping competitions in the world has been cancelled for the second time.

One of the most illustrious competitions on the piping circuit – the PM Donald MacLeod Memorial Piping Competition, held annually in Stornoway – has been cancelled for 2021, with a virtual all-star piping recital being organised in its place.

By John A. MacInnes
Monday, 8th March 2021, 2:44 pm
Updated Monday, 8th March 2021, 2:50 pm
Finlay Johnston (left) and Stuart Liddell – overall 1st and 2nd respectively – at the 2019 Donald MacLeod competition.
Finlay Johnston (left) and Stuart Liddell – overall 1st and 2nd respectively – at the 2019 Donald MacLeod competition.

The first weekend in April would normally be the highlight of the year for the Lewis and Harris Piping Society. For nearly three decades the Society have held the Donald MacLeod competition on that weekend in the legendary piper’s home town, with their current main sponsors being the multi-award winning Point and Sandwick Trust.

The competition is held to commemorate PM Donald MacLeod who was born in Stornoway in 1916 and became one of the most famous pipers in the world in the 20th Century. Each year, eight of the best pipers in the world – based on competition success over the year – are invited to Stornoway to play a selection of Donald MacLeod tunes, in front of a panel of expert judges and a discerning audience.

Dr John Smith, chairman of the Piping Society, said: “Sadly, the competition is not going to happen this year, any more than it happened last year. The first lockdown was imposed last year just a few weeks before the due date, and although the more optimistic forecasters were predicting, back at the start of the vaccination programme, that the country would open up by Easter, it now looks as if that will not happen until summer.

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“So the next time that Donald MacLeod tunes, played by some of the best pipers in the world, will enthral a live audience in the Caladh Hotel in Stornoway is likely to be April 1, 2022.

“In the meantime, the Piping Society are in the process of planning a virtual PM Donald MacLeod tribute concert. We have invited a selection of pipers to submit a short video of tunes, including some Donald MacLeod compositions.

“The recordings, will be posted on the Society Facebook page on April 2 at 7pm.

“At this time of year the Society would be holding their AGM and we hope to do that by Zoom on Thursday, April 15. It is very important that we keep our traditions going, as we emerge from the restrictions of the pandemic, and anyone wishing to attend the AGM can contact the Society at: [email protected] or contact Ashley MacDonald, on 07919101011.