Nigel Richard, 1948-2021

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Nigel Richard, a leading light in the bellows piping revival, has died. He was 73 and had been fighting cancer for a few years . He died on the evening of New Year’s Day in an Edinburgh hospice where he had only just been admitted.

Nigel [pictured] was the proprietor of Garvie Bagpipes of Pathhead in Midlothian, Scotland. His business was formerly based just off Easter Road in Edinburgh. The company ceased trading one week before Christmas.

Nigel was born in London, England and moved with his wife, Heather to Lochaber in Scotland in the early 1980s. Professionally, he worked in accountancy and in the navy before, in 1985, enrolling in a two-year musical instrument repair course at at Stevenson College in Edinburgh. He then started making bagpipes professionally in 1987 and never looked back.

Nigel was Convenor – Chairman – of the Lowland & Border Pipers’ Society from June 2003 till November 2006. Current Convenor, Stuart Letford, said: “This is sad news. We knew Nigel hadn’t been well these last few years. He will be remembered for his enthusiasm, his depth of knowledge about reeds and tuning etc, and the quality of his instruments.”

Finlay MacDonald, Director of Piping at the National Piping Centre and who has played Nigel’s instruments for many years, said: “Nigel was a great innovator, a brilliant musician and pipe maker, but most of all a great friend.

“I used to love going to visit Nigel at his workshop of a Saturday morning, spending the day foutering with pipes, talking about music and writing tunes. We’d inevitably end up in the pub playing tunes and having great craic for hours on end. That’s what I’ll remember most about Nigel; his generosity of spirit and infectious enthusiasm for life.”

Although he made bagpipes, Nigel himself wasn’t a piper. His musical interests were in playing cittern and playing Indian music. His style of guitar playing was influenced by Davey Graham.

Nigel was a frequent visitor to India and Thailand, where he met his partner Penn.

We offer our condolences to Nigel’s family.

Nigel and Ross Ainslie playing at a pub session in 2013.