Bruce Hitchings MBE BEM, has introduced a product aimed at pipers concerned about viral transmission, available from his Scotland and Arizona-based bagpipe company, Highland Reeds.

The product is a strip of fine Merino wool that absorbs the piper’s warm breath and kills all viruses including coronavirus. There are no chemicals used in treating the wool. It is 100% natural.

•Merino wool cloth filters and the Highland Reeds MCS4 and MT3 moisture control systems

Bruce said: “Many people don’t realise that most face masks can be as little as 60% effective due to low filtration. These new cloth filters take out 99% of particles and viruses larger than 0.3 microns and are made from natural Merino sheep wool. This type of sheep produces the world’s finest wool.

“The Merino wool strip is placed inside a small chamber at the end of a tube that is connected to the blow stick. The warm, moist breath from the piper is therefore absorbed completely, with the result that colder air then enters the bag. And by using this cloth in the moisture tube cartridge, the virus is completely prevented from entering the bag. A bonus is that is also very breathable and absorbent.

“All viruses that are transmitted in the air thrive on moisture. Pipers can play with every confidence – and their audience can enjoy the performance too, safe in the knowledge that no virus can be transmitted while the piper plays.”

Mr Hitchings added that in addition to killing viruses, the clean air also results in more clarity in the overall sound of the instrument.

A Helix merino wool filter demonstration video can be viewed here.

• Bruce Hitchings MBE BEM was born in New Zealand where he learned to play the pipes. He enlisted in The Black Watch Territorial Army as a Piper in 1977 the, the following year, as a regular into the Queen’s Own Highlanders. Bruce became the Battalion Pipe Major in 1986. The last eight years of his military career was spent in the post of WO1 Pipe Major, the Senior Pipe Major, British Army and Chief Instructor at The Army School of Piping at Edinburgh Castle.

On completing his regular service, Bruce was commissioned into the Territorial Army with responsibility for the development of piping within the Reserve and Cadet Forces. After a total of 33 years’ service, he finally resigned his commission (Major) in 2011 and continues to be held in highest esteem in military and piping circles.

Bruce set up Highland Reeds in 2000 and has developed new piping products with an aim to simplify the science of piping. His Balance Tone Drone Reeds and range of moisture systems are popular with pipers the world over for both their simplicity and effectiveness. He continues to work on innovative products to make the life of the piper easier.

He is a former Board Member of the College of Piping and a member of the Piping Committee for the Northern Meeting Piping Competition. He continues to be a Senior Examiner for the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) Pipe & Drums Qualifications Board (PDQB).