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Piping up 70th birthday celebration in Dufftown

By Sarah Rollo

A PIPE band has celebrated its 70th anniversary with workshops led by two of the finest players in the world.

Dufftown and District celebrated the milestone with a weekend of playing with Stuart Liddell and Steven McWhirter from Inveraray Pipe Band.

Dufftown and District Pipe Band members take a brief pause from their special 70th anniversary workshop weekend.
Dufftown and District Pipe Band members take a brief pause from their special 70th anniversary workshop weekend.

Stuart is one of the most recognised names in piping and one of the top competitive solo players in the world, while Steven has a cabinet full of trophies and was named World Solo Drumming Champion from 2011-2017.

The two-day anniversary event was hosted by Glenfiddich Distillery and took place in its Rabbie Dhu Centre.

On the first day, the band was joined by players from across the north-east and the 57 participants developed a range of skills needed to develop their playing, supported by drumming tutors Ian Thomson and Sarah Grant and piping tutors Richard Anderson and Fiona Caldwell.

The session came to an end with 30 minutes of playing from everyone present, with the sound reaching the Rabbie Dhu rafters.

Workshops on the second day were held solely for Dufftown and District Pipe Band members, with 35 pipers and drummers taking part.

Following a busy session, Stuart and Steven gave a recital in the distillery's Malt Barn which attracted a sell-out crowd of 120 enthusiasts.

Mrs Caldwell, who helped organised the event, said: "We were delighted when Stuart and Steven accepted the invitation to teach at the workshops and perform a recital to celebrate 70 years of the pipe band. Their level of tuition and knowledge that participants received from the workshops was a great experience.

"The feedback from pipe bands and participants since the event has been overwhelming. There is rich talent of piping and drumming in the area and events like these are great at promoting and encouraging playing for all ages and abilities."

Pipe Major Kim Paterson said it was an honour to to learn from Stuart and Steven.

She added: "They provided excellent instruction to all members of Dufftown and District Pipe Band to help us further develop our skills and they did so in a very relaxed and enjoyable manner."

Band chairman Gordon Geddes thanked everyone involved for making the event a memorable occasion.

He said: "The feedback we are getting back is very positive for the whole weekend. The Glenfiddich Distillery were very generous with their support in hosting the event and I think all will agree it was a terrific venue."

Dufftown and District Pipe Band was formed in 1949 after an article, which appeared in the Dufftown News, was read by Cape Town resident George King, who was a native of Dufftown.

He gifted £750 to begin equipping a pipe band and subsequently donated a further £2250 to the cause. On August 17, 1949 a meeting was held and a committee appointed.

Their first appearance came in 1950 with 17 members playing in their Red Innes of Moray Tartan.

The band have since gone on to entertain locally, but have also played to crowds throughout the world including New Zealand, Russia, Brazil, France, Germany, Tenerife, Ireland, Belgium and Norway.

The band assisted Diageo in the making of the Johnnie Walker advert for the South African market and also celebrated the 12 days of Christmas with the Hairy Bikers at Macallan Distillery.

The Christmas Special was aired showing the band on BBC television in December 2009.

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