• Where are you from and how did you get into piping?
I am from Ayr and started learning on the chanter at age seven. Piping was something I wanted to do from a young age after attending a pipe band competition held in the town in the early 1970s.
• How has the pandemic affected your piping personally?
My motivation had completely gone. I was furloughed from the new job I started and, with it being in the aircraft industry, the longer I was on furlough I could not see me going back to work. All wedding bookings were cancelled and with non-essential businesses being closed my other hobby was also at a standstill.
• Is there anything you can’t leave home without?
I always have Lenny with me – he is my pocket lion. My partner gave him to me 20 years ago when I did a lot of travel in my old job mostly on my own, so he was bit of company.
• Who has been the biggest influence on your piping?
I would have to give credit to my parents (and my two younger sisters, one of whom was only a baby being dragged along). Starting out at a young age and joining a pipe band at aged eight, moving on to pipes and playing with the band at gala days, going to competitions they were always there. It was a big ask for them to give up weekends during the summer months. Piping is a hobby with such a huge commitment.
• How do you relax and do you have other interests or hobbies?
I like to read, go for walks. I am learning to become friends with my sewing machine by working on small projects. I also make kilts in the traditional way by hand sewing. Its hard work but I find the sewing part therapeutic.
• What’s your favourite destination, either for a holiday or on a piping trip?
I love Boston and the Massachusetts area but only in winter months to allow me to get to at least one of the Boston Bruins hockey games.
• Do you have a go at the local language when abroad?
Of course. It would be rude not to. I travelled a lot in my old job and could at one time order my coffee in Hungarian, Polish, Italian, French, German, Ukrainian and Portuguese.
• Was piping something you wanted to do from an early age?
Yes it was. My parents took me to World Pipe Band Championships held at Ayr around 1973 (I was very young). Mum wanted me to take up highland dancing. Instead I pointed to someone holding what I now know to be bagpipes and said that was what I wanted to do. So a few years on, here I am.
• Do you recall the very first competition you competed in?
I was nine years old. The competition was The Killoch Festival in Ayrshire, organised by my band, Killoch Colliery Pipe Band. I played a Slow Air and 6/8 March. It was all going well until the second last bar of the last tune and I made a mistake. The judge asked to speak to me after everyone had played. I thought I was in trouble (I was only nine). He told me that if I had not left the room but continued to the end of the tune I would still have been in the prize list and his advice was to keep going even if you make a mistake.
• Favourite piobaireachd?
My favourite piobaireachds are The Old Woman’s Lullaby and Cabar Feidh Gu Brath.
• Thank you, Janette!