• PART 50 •


The 1985 Gathering was on August 28 and 29. There were more changes both to events and the venues. Rules for the Gold Medal were: First prize-winners in this Event at any former Argyllshire Gathering are excluded, and entry is restricted to (1) those who have won a prize in competition for the Highland Society of London’s Gold Medal at a former Gathering at Oban or Northern Meeting at Inverness, and (2) previous first prize-winners in the Silver Medal Competition at either the Argyllshire Gathering or the Northern Meeting.

Competitors were required to submit eight tunes of their own choosing one of which they were required to play.

The competitors in order of play were: 

  • D. B. MacNeill, Ravelston Dykes
  • Dr A. MacDonald. Cape Breton, Canada
  • James McGillivray, Ontario, Canada
  • A. A. MacDonald, Glenluig
  • Alfred P. Morrison, Bishopton
  • Roderick M. MacLeod, Cambuslang
  • Andrew Berthoff, St. Louis, U.S.A.
  • Colin  C. Drummond,  Bathgate
  • Captain R.H. MacPhee, King’s Own Scottish Borderers
  • Amy Garson, Ottawa, Canada
  • Sgt Brian Donaldson, Scots Guards
  • Logan Tannock, Sauchie
  • C.I. Terry, Grahamstown, South Africa
  • R. A. McShannon, Thornwood
  • William Gass, Edinburgh
  • Jack Lee, Surrey, Canada
  • l/Sgt. R. J. Huth, Scots Guards
  • Sgt. R. J. B. McCourt, Queen’s Own Highlanders
  • Donald Bain, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Colin Maclellan, Brockville, Canada
  • John A. MacLeod, New Westminster. Canada
  • E. D. Neigh, Wellesley, Canada

In the Senior Piobaireachd competitors were required to submit twelve tunes of their own choosing, one of which they would be required to play.

The competitors in order of play were:  

  • K. MacDonald, Glasgow
  • Murray Henderson, Elkton, U.S.A.
  • M. McRae, Strathglass
  • H. MacCallum, Dunblane
  • Pipe Major Angus MacDonald, Scots Guards
  • Jack Lee, Surrey, Canada
  • Andrew Wright, Dunblane
  • Iain MacFadyen, Kyle of Lochalsh
  • Colin MacLellan, Brockville, Canada
  • Inspector John Wilson, Strathclyde Police
  • Donald Bain, Wellington, New Zealand
  • John McDougall, Kincraig
  • Donald MacPherson, LLandinam
  • K. J. Maclean, Glasgow
  • A. A. MacDonald, Glenluig

PM Angus MacDonald and Inspector John Wilson did not play. This event finished at 3pm and was to be followed by the final of the Silver Medal which was judged by Iain Cameron, Leslie Craig and John Burgess.

•Robert Wallace and Donald MacPherson lead the march to the Games in 1985.

Competitors in the Silver Medal were required to submit four tunes from a list of ten. These were Sir James MacDonald of the Isles Lament, Lament for Donald of Laggan, Lament for the Old Sword, The Little Spree, The Carles Wi’ the Breeks, Lady Anapool’s Lament, The MacKay’s Short Tune, Salute to Donald, Marquis of Argyll’s Salute, Munro’s Salute.

The Junior MSR was held in the Phoenix Cinema after the Silver Medal heat. There were 12 competitors:

  • Heather MacInnes
  • Ian B MacCallum
  • Charles Ferguson
  • Sheila Tinto
  • James Campbell
  • Andrew Robertson
  • Alastair McKechnie
  • Iain C Donaldson
  • D L Cousin
  • Tony R Sellar
  • Shona MacLeod
  • S W Liddell

The judges were James Campbell and Andrew MacNeill. The result was:

  1. Andrew Robertson
  2. D L Cousin
  3. Iain C Donaldson
  4. Charles Ferguson

The MacGregor Memorial Piobaireachd for competitors who had not reached their 22nd birthday on September 12, 1985 was held in St Columba’s Church Hall after the other Silver Medal heat, with judges PM R MacCallum and William M MacDonald. Competitors were to submit four tunes of their own choice, one of which would be played at Oban and another at Inverness. The eight competitors were:

  • Martyn A Brown, Aberdeen
  • Craig A Robertson, Lochgilphead
  • Roderick  Livingstone, Norwich
  • Darleen Miharija, Burnaby, Canada
  • Andrew C McCowan, Houston
  • George Taylor, Broughty Ferry
  • Alan Minty, Bearsden
  • Stuart Shedden, Glasgow

The names of all the piobaireachds offered, totalling 120 tunes, were listed in the programme and the numbers of the tunes submitted by each competitor were listed after their name in the programme.

Senior Piobaireachd

The following Piping Times report was by Jeannie Campbell. “This began at 9am in the Corran Halls and was judged by Captain Iain Cameron, Dr Leslie Craig and John D Burgess. There were 15 names in the programme but not all played. First on after lunch was Donald Macpherson and a large audience gathered to hear him give a brilliant performance of Patrick Og to win this event for the 13th time.”

  1. Donald MacPherson, Llandinam, (Patrick Og MacCrimmon)
  2. Colin MacLellan, Canada, (Glengarry’s  March)
  3. Hugh MacCallum, Dunblane, (Earl of Antrim)
  4. Malcolm McRae, Strathglass, (Donald Duaghal MacKay)

Gold Medal

“This was held in St John’s Cathedral and began at 9am with a break of an hour at 10.45 for communion. The judges were Robert G Hardie, Evan MacRae and Captain Andrew Pitkeathly. 23 had entered but not all played. The result was announced at 5.45pm.”

  1. Robert Wallace, Stepps, (King’s Taxes),
  2. Alfred Morrison, Bishopton, (Captain MacDougall),
  3. James McGillivray, Canada, (Battle of the Pass of Crieff),
  4. Chris Terry, South Africa, (MacLeod of Raasay).

Silver Medal

“This year the Silver Medal competition was divided into two sections. Section 1, with 24 competitors, began at 9am in the Phoenix Cinema and was judged by James Campbell and Andrew MacNeill. The five chosen from this section to play again in the final were Stuart Shedden, Donald Lindsay, Michael Grey, James Bayne and William Maclean.

“Section 2, with 23 competitors, was in St. Columba’s Church Hall and was judged by Ronald MacCallum and William M. MacDonald. The finalists from this section were Angus MacColl, Alan Minty, Gordon Walker, Robert Stewart and Scott MacAulay. The final was due to be held in the Corran Halls after the end of the senior event at 3pm but as neither of the qualifying sections had finished at that time it was 4.45pm before it started, causing panic among the Stewards as the hall had to be cleared for 6pm, which of course was not possible.”

The result was:

  1. Gordon Walker, R.H.F. (Sir James MacDonald of the Isles),
  2. Michael Grey, Canada, (Lament for the Old Sword),
  3. James Bayne, Montrose, (Sir James MacDonald of the Isles),
  4. Donald Lindsay, U.S.A. (Donald of Laggan),
  5. Angus MacColl, Benderloch, (Carles with the Breeks).

The Games

•The march to the Games in 1985 led by Robert Wallace, Donald MacPherson, Logan Tannock, Brian Coutts RHF and Colin Drummond.

“The day was fine and sunny and a large crowd followed the march of Stewards and pipers from the station to the games field. In the local events judged by John Burgess, Robert Hardie and Ronald Lawrie there were only two competitors. N. MacNaughton came first in the March and the Strathspey and Reel, with J. MacLeod coming second.

“The March competition was judged by Andrew Pitkeathly, Ronald MacCallum and Leslie Craig. There were 62 competitors and no short leet.”

The result was:

  1. Alastair Gillies
  2. Murray Henderson
  3. Jack Lee
  4. Leslie Watson
  5. Colin Drummond

“The Strathspey and Reel had an entry of 58 and was judged by Evan MacRae, William MacDonald and Iain Cameron. Again there was no short leet.”

The result was:

  1. Alastair Gillies
  2. Jack Lee
  3. Roderick MacLeod
  4. Angus MacColl
  5. Leslie Hutt

“The former winners’ March Strathspey and Reel was a great disappointment. There were 17 names in the programme but Ed Neigh, PM. Angus MacDonald, Donald Bain, Iain MacFadyen, John Wilson, John MacDougall, Hugh MacCallum and Hugh Maclnnes did not play. Murray Henderson, Kenneth MacDonald, Dr Angus MacDonald and Sgt Brian Donaldson broke down.”

The result was:

  1. Robert Wallace
  2. Donald MacPherson
  3. Malcolm MacRae

“The judges were John Burgess, Robert Hardie and Ronald Lawrie. The trophy for most points overall went to Donald MacPherson.

“There were the usual heavy and light athletic events, plus other traditional Highland events like parachute jumping, pillow fighting, tilting at buckets, children’s races, overseas visitors’ races and sideshows. The aristocracy were exhibited in an enclosure at the end of the field. One wonders why they have to be enclosed; are they a dangerous species or merely an endangered one?

•The ‘Stewards’ on the march to the Games in 1985.

“As usual the appearance of Oban Pipe Band caused a stampede of tourists away from the piping platforms to hear what they think of as real pipers. The so-called special attraction this year was the Connecticut Fife and Drum Band, which proved attractive neither musically nor visually, and was a disaster for at least one piper. Thinking them safely at the other end of the field, next to the strathspey and reel platform, he started his march only to have them about turn and advance right on him, their very loud drumming making it impossible for him to continue.”

The enclosure mentioned in the report was in 2021 the subject of a comment by one of those entitled to entry. In an article for the programme that year Nicolas Maclean of Pennycross wrote that the Members’ Tent was sometimes irreverently referred to as ‘The Rare Breeds Tent.’