Online Lewis and Harris junior contest a great success / Tex Geddes

Tex Geddes, Soay.

The first virtual version of the Lewis and Harris Piping Society’s annual competition for junior players has been hailed a great success, with the online format appearing to enable a big increase in participation from pipers from the southern part of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides in particular. A total of 102 players took part from throughout the islands – a number of entries that, the Society says, is considerably higher than normal.

The Society’s piping secretary, Ashley MacDonald, said a high volume of enquiries were received form young pipers on Scotland’s mainland, although they were not eligible as the competition was only for those resident in the Western Isles. Dr John Smith, chairman of The Lewis and Harris Piping Society, said the competition had been very successful and welcomed the participation of pipers from Barra in particular. He said the Society would be looking at how it could enable such increased participation from the Southern Isles to continue into the future, post-lockdown, and praised all those who took part.

“The format worked well,” he said. “The competitors submitted recordings of themselves playing their tunes and they were all advised to dress appropriately – ie. in full Highland dress – and the recordings for each section were sent to a nominated judge.

“We are grateful to our sponsors, Point and Sandwick Trust, who generously agreed to meet the expenses of holding the competition in this format.”

The judges were Glenn Brown, Callum Beaumont, Sarah Muir, Finlay Johnston, Iain Speirs, Donald MacPhee, Roddy MacLeod MBE and Decker Forrest – many of whom had been due to perform at his year’s Pipe Major Donald MacLeod Memorial Piping Competition, before it was cancelled due to lockdown.

A montage of some of the competitors at the Lewis and Harris Piping Society’s recent online junior competition.

The Society was assisted by Alex Tearse from Reefnet, who created the competition portal and set up the online ceilidhs. 

The Society also acknowledged the support of the MacCrimmon Foundation, MacPhee Reeds, McCallum Bagpipes, the National Piping Centre and The Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust, Ian Duncan and Graham MacIver.

Beginner Chanter – 1. Liam Beaton; 2. Freya Duffield; 3. Isla Jane Steel; 4. Thomas Cunningham.
Novice Chanter – 1. Ruairidh Cowan; 2. Ruairidh MacLeod; 3. Kieran MacNeil; 4. Anna MacDonald.
Advanced Chanter – 1. Zoe Marie Steel; 2. Dòmhnall Eachann MacLean; 3. Laura MacLeod; 4. Eilidh Marks.
Novice Primary March – 1. James MacRae; 2. Alexander MacLeod; 3. Hendry; 4. Fraser Laurie.
Novice Primary Freestyle – 1. James MacRae; 2. Alexander MacLeod; 3. Cameron Hendry; 4. Fraser Laurie.
Secondary Novice March – 1. Colin MacIver; 2. Alex Murray; 3. Donald Henderson; 4. Charlie Shirkie.
Secondary Novice Freestyle – 1. Aithne MacDougall; 2. Colin MacIver; 3. Alex Murray; 4. Charlie Shirkie.
Under 16 March – 1. Eosaph Galbraith; 2. Mairead Galbraith; 3. Andrew MacNeil; 4. Joseph Nicolson.
Under 16 Strathspey and Reel – 1. Eosaph Galbraith; 2. Joseph Nicolson; 3. Mairead Galbraith; 4. Aaron Ingram.
Under 16 Jig – 1. Eosaph Galbraith; 2. Kevin Beaton; 3. Joseph Nicolson; 4.= Aaron Ingram and Racheal Sinclair.
Under 16 Hornpipe – 1. Joseph Nicolson; 2. Kevin Beaton; 3. Eosaph Galbraith; 4. Andrew MacNeil.
Under 16 Ceòl Mòr – 1. Eosaph Galbraith; 2. Joseph Nicolson; 3. Kevin Beaton; 4. Aaron Ingram;
Under 16 Freestyle – 1. Eosaph Galbraith; 2. Joseph Nicolson; 3. Kevin Beaton; 4. Micheal MacLellan.
Under 18 March, Strathspey and Reel – 1. Callum MacMillan; 2. Martin Sinclair; 3. Jamie Kennedy Doig; 4. Finlay Widdop.
Under 18 Hornpipe and Jig – 1. Callum MacMillan; 2. Jamie Kennedy Doig; 3. Finlay Widdop; 4. Ciaran Murray.
Under 18 Ceòl Mòr – 1. Calum MacMillan.
Under 18 Freestyle – 1. Jamie Kennedy Doig; 2. Martin Sinclair; 3. Ciaran Murray; 4. = Finlay Widdop and Murdo Angus.

After reading our recent post about the line up for next week’s PM Alasdair Gillies Memorial Recital Challenge, Tabby Angier of Kintyre, Scotland, was in touch with a lovely story about the late champion piper:

Tex Geddes, Soay.

“Seeing the recent post reminded me of Tex Geddes of Soay. Tex was a wonderful character who’s company I so enjoyed at piping recitals and competitions … As a youngster he had been a ‘monkey boy’ at a lumber camp, climbing to the tops of trees to take the tops off, and also a rum smuggler. He later joined the Army and was attached to the Seaforths. He joined Special Forces where he saw active service then became an Instructor, training the Commandos etc. Tex was the supreme specialist in amphibious warfare.

“He later went into the shark-fishing business with Gavin Maxwell and some may remember his book Hebridean Sharker. I have a treasured copy.

“In Stornoway at the PM Donald MacLeod Invitational one year, I could see Tex was very poorly, and ‘failing’. I went over to Alasdair Gillies and explained who Tex was, and his ‘Seaforth’ connection. Immediately, Alasdair went over to him, saluted him, solemnly and formally, and had a great chat with him. Tex was very pleased.

“Sadly, the following morning, he was dead.”