Champion piper, Finlay Johnston is about to embark on a marathon cycle trip to raise money for Cancer Research.

Finlay’s father, Tommy, died last July from cancer.

Finlay and friend, Gordon Bruce who teaches piping at St Columba’s School in Kilmacolm, aim to cycle from the National Piping Centre’s Glasgow city centre headquarters to The Corran Halls in Oban. The duo [pictured] will set off this Saturday (28th) at 07:00 and will be going via Helensburgh-Arrochar-Inveraray rather than the busy A82/A85 trunk roads.

Tommy Johnston.

Finlay said: “Dad loved Oban, and also enjoyed regularly letting me know I was needing to lose the extra pounds I’ve gained over the last while … so I think he would be pleased! The route is exactly 100 miles long.

“This will be the longest cycle I’ve ever done. The closest I’ve done to this was 50+ miles on the Five Ferries Route*. I’m quit enervous about it!

“We’re hoping to do it in under ten hours. This should give us a generous amount of time considering the lack of training.

“We’re not taking the pipes. I’m not sure anyone would want to hear us attempt a tune after 100-mile pedal!”

The route the duo will take.

At the time of posting, Finlay and Gordon have hugely exceeded their initial target of £500 by 330% (£1,654).

Tommy Johnston was a partner in Pipe Dreams, the company that make EzeeDrone reeds. He was a popular figure in piping and piping band circles, and was a snare drummer with Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band, Shotts & Dykehead Caledonia and British Caledonian Airways Pipe Band (BCal) which became the Power of Scotland Pipe Band and then ScottishPower.

• To donate.

* The Five Ferries Route involves travelling from Arran-Kintyre-Cowal-Bute and involves five Caledonian MacBrayne ferry trips. It’s a beautiful and rewarding cycling challenge.

A call for papers has gone out ahead of next spring’s International Bagpipe Conference (IBO).

King’s Hall.

The sixth conference takes place from March 11-13, 2022 in the King’s Hall of Newcastle University in the north east of England. The conference is a platform for all people interested in the study of bagpipes, such as musicologists, ethnomusicologists, music experts, instrument makers, musicians.

Well known piper, Simon McKerrell, who is a Reader in Music and Society at the university, is on the organising and programme committees and is expected to deliver a paper at the conference. Mr McKerrell is currently preparing a new album which will come with a companion paper.

The three-day event is being combined with the third Newcastle Piping Festival.

The 2020 conference, which was to be held at Harvard University in Boston, USA, was cancelled due to the pandemic.

International Bagpipe Day is on March 10, 2022.

Reed maker and adjudicator, Donald MacPhee will feature as part of this week’s online Cowal Highland Gathering.

The Texan Gold Medallist who resides near Loch Lomond will talk about his piping life.

Also included in the online broadcast is footage from the 2017 Cowal Championships, the 2019 Drum Major Challenge, a feature on the 125th Cowal Gathering in 2019 which features pipe bands and the Salute to the Chieftain as well as the street parade.

A solo Salute to the Chieftain will take place this year and a new choreographed dance, featuring Highland dancers from around the world, is expected to be unveiled.

Cowal Highland Gathering takes place this week (August 26-28). The three-day event will take place virtually for the second year running.

For more details email or visit

Bobby Harvey, the well-known Scottish fiddler whose band, The Bobby Harvey Ceilidh Band, was popular around Scotland, has died.

Bobby’s band played regularly at Turnberry and Gleneagles hotels at various functions over the years. Pipe marches were a favourite.

Date for the diary: Next year’s Piping Live! festival will take place from August 6-14.