Sandy Grant Gordon, one of piping’s great patrons – possibly its greatest ever benefactor – has died peacefully at home. He was 89 and had been in hospital following a fall a week ago. Daughters Maggie and Sally were with him at the end.

Sandy was not a piper himself but his support for piping lasted for almost 50 years. Sandy was the patriarch of William Grant & Sons Ltd., one of the UK’s last independent, family-owned distillers of spirits. Until recent years, the financial support came from Sandy’s own finances. Today, the funding comes through his company’s William Grant Foundation, which he set up a few years ago.

The founding of the Glenfiddich – the Grant’s Championship as it was called – in 1974 set new standards other promoters realised they had to match. The idea was the brainchild of Seumas MacNeill and Sandy. Both wanted to further enhance the status of the piper, something that was one of the founding principles of the College of Piping back in 1948. The Glenfiddich has acted almost as a catalyst in considerably raising the prize money at our leading solo events today.

In the early-mid 1990s, Sandy and his company were critical to the success of the fundraising for the National Piping Centre in Glasgow.

Sandy chatting with Alasdair Henderson at the 2014 Echoes of Oban held at the College of Piping in Glasgow.

His company’s patronage of piping did not stop with the Glenfiddich. It went on to sponsor the Senior Piobaireachd at Oban, the Bratach Gorm, the Silver Chanter, the Donald MacDonald Cuach, The Captain John A. MacLellan MBE Recital/Competition, the Atholl Gathering, the John MacFadyen Lecture, the Braemar piobaireachd, and many B and C Grade contests. In addition, the company has been a sponsor of Piping Live! since its inception in 2003.

His foresight and generosity were recognised in 2014 he was awarded the College of Piping Award for services to piping.

Sandy’s wife, Linda, died last October, aged 85.

On behalf of the pipers worldwide, we extend our sincere condolences to Sandy’s family and friends.