We are saddened to learn of the untimely death of popular northeast Scotland piper, Heather MacKay [pictured]. She was 53 and died in hospital the early hours of Monday morning. At this stage, the cause of her death has not been released.

Heather was well known in Scotland’s pipe band world, particularly in her native Aberdeenshire. She was a member of the Deeside Ladies Pipe Band for most of the 1980s. Latterly, she played with Buchan Peterson Pipe Band.

Heather was born in 1967 in Peterculter, a suburb of Aberdeen.

Our condolences go to Ian, Florence, Doug and family and to the pipe band community of northeast Scotland.

Smallpipes pioneer, Donald W. G. Lindsay will make a brief return to Scotland this summer to tour Scotland. He and his family have been effectively in isolation in the mid-Atlantic island of Ascension for the past 18 months.

Donald Lindsay and Zexuan Qiao competing in the Smallpipes and OtherInstrument category at the 2019 competition.
Donald Lindsay and Zexuan Qiao at the 2019 Lowland & Border Pipers’ Society competition.

Donald spoke with Bagpipe.News yesterday to outline his tour. He said: “I’m planning a solo set using my new smallpipes. Like others I’ve produced, these have an extended range (three octaves). I’ve written a lot of new compositions whilst on Ascension and I’ll be debuting them on the tour.”

Donald describes his new music as, “ambient, striking, some nice, melodic hooks …  space pibroch! The intention is to use the music to provide the soundtrack to a short film of my own. I’m working on that just now. It’s an ‘open’ film in that I’ll be adding scenes to it from the tour.

“I won’t say too much about the film just now, but quite a bit of the footage will be shot at sunrise, receding to the ‘Simmer Dim’ on the way to the North Isles [Orkney and Shetland – Editor]. The hour or so after sunrise on Ascension is called the ‘golden hour’ due to the quality of the light, and it takes place at pretty much the same time throughout the year due to the fact that we’re almost on the Equator. The climate doesn’t change that much either.

“The initial filming takes place over the next seven weeks, covering our last five weeks out here, and the journey back via St. Helena, London, Cheltenham, Millport, and then filming will continue while I’m touring

“Being on Ascension for all this time has been a bit like being stuck in a time capsule. We now have this sudden feeling of imminence of returning home, and we’re actually getting a bit nervous as to the virus situation in Scotland. We hear the picture is quite good now, though.”

Donald’s Scottish tour takes in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles and Edinburgh before he and his family return to Ascension for a while.

• Find out more – and his itinerary – by reading Donald’s blog here next week.

In response to some Bagpipe.News readers enquiries as to the Piping Times index that Annie Grant, Dunoon, compiled until the March 2010 edition, we are happy to report that the index was completed by Jeannie Campbell last summer. We now have an index of the entire archive and this should prove useful when we digitise it.

John Hughes

John Hughes, who was replaced as Chairman of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association (RSPBA) at the organisation’s recent AGM, is to be made its Honorary Vice President. All Directors agreed the proposal.

Hughes served 20 years on the Board of Directors variously as a Board Member, as Vice Chairman and as Chairman.

Another ex-Chairman, Gordon Hammil, was also made an Honorary Vice President.

From our archives (the May 1958 Piping Times) – “The Fremantle Ladies’ Highland Pipe Band recently celebrated their 10th Anniversary in the East Fremantle Town Hall. During these ten years the band has had about 200 members and has travelled thousands of miles to engagements in country centres.

“Members are taught by Mr. A. MacMurchie. Recruits, 14 years of age or over, must serve a probationary period of three months before acceptance to full membership.

“The band has won ‘The Craib Trophy’ in the ‘B’ Grade Macleod Competition, held in November each year, and also the ‘B’ Grade in last year’s Easter Competitions. So, to the ladies of Fremantle Pipe Band we extend our best wishes for the 1958 Competitions.”

• Help the National Piping Centre digitise the Piping Times and Piping Today archives and produce Volume 1 of a new Piping Times annual. There are 20 days left to donate to the Crowdfunder.