Reader, Arthur Baird has been in touch with us in relation to the music of the late Pipe Major John Matheson BEM, of the Cameronians (The Scottish Rifles).

Matheson [pictured] served originally with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers regiment in 1943 in India and Burma. In 1947 he gained his Pipe Major’s certificate at Edinburgh Castle. Latterly, he was in charge of the pipers of the Lowland Brigade Junior Soldiers’ Wing of the Depot at Lanark. He retired from the army in 1962 but went on to work for the British Motor Corporation where he was also involved in instructing pipers and drummers in his new role as Pipe Major for its pipe band. The company became defunct in 1966. Among his many compositions is Pipe Major R. U. Brown’s Welcome To Canada, which can be found in Book 3 of Pipe Major Donald MacLeod’s collection.

Arthur writes: “I was taught as a boy by Pipe Major John Matheson. I am trying to get back into piping at 50 years old and I’m presently going through my old music again. I have original hand written tunes that John wrote as a gift to me, which I don’t think anyone but me has ever seen. I also have hand written pibroch manuscript that he wrote from memory.” Arthur would like to honour John’s memory in some way, perhaps with a book of John’s compositions or by placing the tunes in an appropriate museum. If anyone can help Arthur please contact us in the first instance.

We received quite a number of responses after our post a couple of weeks ago regarding Captain J. R. C. Peterson.

Iain Peterson having a tune on the Cape Grenville ship.

In the early 1980s, Peterson published two collections of pipe music but information about him is scarce.

Iain Peterson was born in 1934 in Edinburgh’s port-town of Leith. His father, also called Iain, was a renowned fiddler in Shetland who was killed in 1940 when the ship he was on was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Norfolk.

Mum, Catherine, then decided to move to her native Ardnamurchan, on Scotland’s west coast. Attending school across the water in Tobermory enabled him to hear Bobby MacLeod playing in the Mishnish Hotel, and it was towards the end of his schooling there that he picked up his dad’s fiddle for the first time.

Peterson had a successful and adventurous career in the shipping industry but in 1968, frustrated by not being able to read music and with a desire to learn the pipes, he by enrolled at the Glasgow College of Piping and learned under the tutorage of Tommy Pearston, Dugald MacNeill and Seamus MacNeill.

In his review of Peterson’s first collection, Dugald wrote: “At first sight it does not seem that any of them [the tunes in the book] will reach the top of the hit parade, but on the other hand most of them are pleasant compositions showing a fair amount of originality … a commendable although surprising publication.”

Iain was seemingly an excellent fiddler and, in fact, produced 16 collections (that included 172 of his own compositions) for the Shian label. It would be fair to say he was known more for being a fiddler than a piper.

Iain lived with his wife, Sheila and their family in Dollar for many years. He died in 2006. There is a thorough biography of Iain on the Box and Fiddle Archive website

Thanks to all who contacted us.

The athletics competitions at Scotland’s highland games will be open to transgender competitors from next year.

Governing body, the Scottish Highland Games Association (SHGA) says it wants its events to be open to all.

To date, no athlete has ever presented as a transgender competitor at any highland games in Scotland.  Ian Grieve, Secretary of the SHGA, said the association was willing to allow transgender competitors using a handicap system that allows athletes of “differing performance levels to compete together fairly.” Mr Grieve said the SHGA “recognises the need to have a cohesive, welcoming approach to all athletes, including those are trans-sexual or who identify as non-binary.”

The SHGA has entered into talks with Scottish Athletics, the governing body for the sport, to discuss the practicalities involved. Peter Jardine of Scottish Athletics told Bagpipe.News: “We are working with, and willing to worth with, event organisers across all disciplines  (be that ultra running, road running, Highland Games etc), to help in practical terms on how additional categories may work.”

Such categories have featured in Scottish Athletics events for past two to three years but with little uptake.