Willie Lawrie Gold Medal photo discovered / Hopes for resumption of band practices / MacCrimmons mark milestone

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Willie Lawrie receives his Gold Medal.

Piping and pipe band historian, Jeannie Campbell has unearthed a fascinating photograph of Willie Lawrie receiving the Gold Medal in 1910.

There are very few known photographs of the Ballachulish-born piper in existence so the find is extremely valuable. It was in 1910 that Lawrie became the second piper ever to win the Gold Medals at the Northern Meeting and Argyllshire Gathering in the same year.

The photograph, shown here, was published in the October 1, 1910 edition of The Sphere, a British illustrated newspaper that ran from 1900-1964. It shows Lawrie, who at this time was Pipe Sergeant of the 8th Argyllshire Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, receiving his medal from Sir John Macpherson Grant.

In those days, the highland games competitions were held in Northern Meeting Park in the centre of Inverness.

Willie Lawrie is the composer of such gems as Battle of the Somme, Inveraray Castle and The Pap Of Glencoe. He died in 1916 as a result of contracting pneumonia and pleurisy in the trenches followed by meningitis after being admitted to hospital.

The October 1, 1910 edition of The Sphere also include two other interesting photographs which Jeannie sent us. The first, pictured, shows three of the piping judges at that year’s Northern Meeting – Davidson of Tulloch, Macpherson of Cluny and Sheriff Grant of Rothiemurchus.

We found the other photo, shown below, particularly interesting because it shows the three judges shielded from the piper on the platform. The judges have no idea who is playing behind them. The caption tells us this is the piobaireachd competition.

Jeannie tells us she has unearthed some more fascinating photographs which she will send in due course.


RSPBA logo

The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association says it will shortly provide information to pipe bands based in Scotland that will allow for a return to some kind of pipe band activity.

At the Board of Directors meeting at the weekend (Saturday, April 17), proposals from the organisation’s Music Board to “initiate activities which will support player and band engagement as part of a Restart Strategy” were approved.

Further information will follow in early May.

An easing of lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland suggest bands there may be able to resume outdoor practices in a limited form from this Friday.


The Clan MacCrimmon Society this month marks 80 years since Canadian piper, Malcolm Roderick MacCrimmon was appointed Hereditary Piper to Dame Flora MacLeod of MacLeod.

The Society has also discovered hundreds of documents relating to the Edmonton, Alberta piper’s appointment in April 1941 and to genealogy research undertaken which focused on descendants in North and South America. The documents include extensive unpublished manuscripts and personal letters of Dame Flora.

Malcolm succeeded Dame Flora MacLeod’s first Hereditary Piper, Dr. Malcolm (Calum) MacCrimmon who was injured badly in a car accident in January 1939. In late 1940 he received tuition from Pipe Major Willie Ross.

Iain Norman MacCrimmon of Monifieth, Scotland succeeded Malcolm in 1978 when John MacLeod of MacLeod appointed him as his Hereditary Piper. Iain is the father of well-known piper, Calum MacCrimmon who plays with the folk band, Breabach. Calum was born in Edmonton but now lives in Glasgow, Scotland. John MacLeod of MacLeod died in 2007 and was succeeded as Chief by his son, Hugh Magnus MacLeod. It is understood that he is not as enthusiastic about piping matters as his father and grandmother were.

Malcolm Roderick MacCrimmon at the MacCrimmon Memorial Cairn in 1941. (Photo © Clan MacCrimmon Society.)

Dr. Malcolm, Malcolm Roderick and Iain are all descended from Donald MacCrimmon, who was one of four sons of Donald Ruadh MacCrimmon. Donald Jnr. was also a piper.

Dame Flora was the 28th Chief of Clan MacLeod. In addition to serving as President of Clan MacCrimmon Society, she was also Patron of the College of Piping until her death in 1976.

• Read more at https://mccrummen.com/

Rod MacLeod’s image shows Calum MacCrimmon playing at the MacCrimmon Memorial Cairn at Boreraig, Skye. Rod has superimposed Calum’s father Iain and grandfather Malcolm onto the image.