Virtual PM Donald MacLeod competition cancelled


The Pipe Major Donald MacLeod MBE Memorial Piping Competition, which was to take place behind closed doors at the National Piping Centre and broadcast online at a later date, has been cancelled due to the pandemic restrictions in place in Scotland’s Central Belt.

The Lewis and Harris Piping Society had arranged for the competition, originally due to have been held in Stornoway on April 3 to instead take place in Glasgow on November 27 – before only the judges, with social distancing in place.

However, Glasgow is currently affected by the Scottish Government’s Level 3 restrictions under the new lockdown system that means no one should travel into or outside the local authority area for non-essential purposes.

Under the travel ban, many of the pipers due to compete in the competition would have been prevented from travelling into Glasgow for the event. 

Dr John Smith, chairman of the Lewis and Harris Piping Society, said: “The Lewis and Harris Piping Society has reluctantly decided that, due to the current restrictions on travel in the Central Belt, the proposed virtual PM Donald MacLeod Memorial Piping Competition 2020 has to be cancelled.

“Due to the increasing incidence of COVID-19 in the country, particularly in the Central Belt, this decision was inevitable. We are disappointed, as the virtual competition would have maintained continuity of the competition, which had been unbroken for the past 27 years.

Finlay Johnston receives his winners’ trophy from Fiona MacLeod at the 2019 competition.

“We are very hopeful that, come next April, the world will have resumed a degree of normality to enable us to resume the competition in Stornoway, its home town, for everyone to enjoy.”

Pipe Major Donald MacLeod MBE.
Pipe Major Donald MacLeod MBE.

The competition is scheduled to return on April 2, 2021.

The eight pipers who would have been taking part this year – based on their wins on the competition circuit last year – were Willie McCallum, Gordon McCready, Sarah Muir, Connor Sinclair, Iain Speirs, Stuart Liddell, Angus MacColl and Niall Stewart. 

The competition, in its 27th year this year, was created to celebrate the music of the legendary Lewis-born piper, Pipe Major Donald MacLeod. It is split into two sections – piobaireachd and march, strathspey and reel – and it is compulsory for competitors to play mostly Donald’s compositions.