Tuning up for piping competition thanks to wind farm charity

Point and Sandwick Trust chairman Angus McCormack, left, with representatives from the Lewis and Harris Piping Society ' committee member and piper Finlay Macleod and chairman John Kennedy.  Picture by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos Photography.
Point and Sandwick Trust chairman Angus McCormack, left, with representatives from the Lewis and Harris Piping Society ' committee member and piper Finlay Macleod and chairman John Kennedy. Picture by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos Photography.

One of the most prestigious piping competitions in the world, the Pipe Major Donald MacLeod Memorial Competition, has been secured in its home town of Stornoway for the next few years thanks to a lifeline donation from wind farm charity Point and Sandwick Trust.

Point and Sandwick, which runs the community-owned turbines at Beinn Ghrideag, has pledged £5,000 to the competition every year for five years.

It means the annual competition, which is organised by the Lewis and Harris Piping Society, can continue to be held in Stornoway, instead of having to be relocated to somewhere like Glasgow to reduce costs.

The competition costs a lot of money to stage – around £11,000 – because the Piping Society foots the bill for the air fares and accommodation for all the pipers taking part, as well as the judges.

Increasing financial pressure could have meant the Piping Society moving the competition to the mainland to cut the size of its travel and accommodation bill.

With many of the usual competitors living in the Glasgow area, moving the competition to Glasgow would have been the obvious choice.

Point and Sandwick Trust chairman Angus McCormack said they were delighted to help keep it at home.

“We have a strong ethos of supporting arts and cultural activities on the island.

“Piping is an integral part of our culture and we are very pleased to be able to help the Piping Society in their efforts to continue this prestigious annual competition in Stornoway.”

To celebrate the sponsorship, piper Finlay Macleod, himself a member of the Lewis and Harris Piping Society committee, came down to the Point and Sandwick Trust offices in Knock, along with John Kennedy, and played a tune.

He chose to play one of Donald MacLeod’s 6/8 compositions, called Mrs Macdonald of Uig.

This year’s competition takes place in the Caladh Hotel on Friday, April 6th and will be followed by a ceilidh at night and a workshop for pipers the next day.

The competition – taking place for the 25th year – celebrates the musical legacy of P/M Donald MacLeod, one of Stornoway’s most famous sons.

It is an invitational competition. Those taking part in the day-long competition are eight of the current best pipers in the world – their invitations are based on successes throughout the year at other events on the piping circuit.

Donald MacLeod was one of the most famous pipers of the last century. He was an outstanding player and won all the major competitions, some of them several times over.

He was also a tutor and a Seaforth Highlander but it was for his prolific compositions, including 26 piobaireachds, that he is best remembered.

The Donald MacLeod Memorial Competition was created to honour his memory and celebrate his music.

The P/M Donald MacLeod Memorial Competition begins at 10.15am. Admission is £15. Tickets for the ceilidh are £5.