Nigel started learning the pipes in 2003 with The City of York Pipe Band, but in 2005 moved to Lincolnshire and became a member of the RAF Waddington Pipes and Drums where he was able to continue his development. He has travelled widely across Europe with both the RAF Waddington and Kernow Pipe Bands to play at international music events.
On his retirement he returned to Cornwall and played with both the Cornwall Caledonian Pipe Band and the Kernow Pipe Band before being elected as Musical Director of the Kernow Pipes and Drums in 2009 and then ‘pipe major’ in 2011. Since 2007, he has been tutored at the College of Piping in Glasgow by the late PM Joe Wilson and subsequently by Willie Morrison attaining a Grade 5 Piping Examination in 2015, while nearer to home he is tutored by James Robertson.
One of my earliest memories is following behind the Oban Pipe Band during summer holidays. At a young age I was enrolled in a pipe chanter class which lasted for five weeks and which I disliked intensely. Some five decades later I took it up again and now enjoy the learning experience, the playing, the camaraderie within the band and attending at all the events in which the band participates within the county, in the country and overseas.
I have also played with, and been involved in, the formation of The Merlion Pipe Band, Singapore, which was set up to encourage youth in Piping. Also have been involved with the Gurkha Contingent Pipes and Drums in Singapore for some 25 years, carrying out ceremonials with them. Am still very involved with Gurkhas and privileged to be so.
I started learning in Caol primary school being taught by P/Major Evan MacRae, former PM of Queens Own Cameron Highlanders, before progressing to Lochaber Schools Pipe Band. I continued with this band for 6 years until leaving school in 1984 and joining the Royal Navy. After being asked to play at a friend’s wedding in 1991, my wife bought me a set of pipes and after two weeks of panic practice on them, I successfully carried it out and have been playing since, sea time permitted.
Having travelled extensively with the Navy, I have been lucky enough to play in many places including Shanghai, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Kenya and various European countries. Also playing with the RN Pipe Band association, I regularly attend the Cologne Carnival and was lucky to be chosen as their representative, playing at the naming of the new carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2014.
Massed band events include a world record in Edinburgh, playing ‘Flower of Scotland’ at Murrayfield before Scotland V South Africa (Scotland won) and 3 American Tartan day parades in New York.
Having played with all 3 bands in Cornwall on and off since 2001 and guesting with the Rose & Thistle band in Portsmouth, I returned to the Kernow band in 2018, after another 3 year break. Since then I have had a great time playing at various events with highlights being 100th Remembrance Day and 75th Arnhem Anniversaries and being asked to play the solo lament at one of the Menin Gate Last Post ceremonies.
I came into the band after a Burns Night dinner in 2009, after meeting several of the band members at the event and expressing an interest in learning to play the pipes. This interest had stemmed from a conversation with my partner Miranda (also in the band) as to what other instruments we would like to learn, I play a smattering of guitar as does she, so bingo we started.
This is also the first time that I have learned to read music at any level and find the tuition at band night practice and workshops excellent and extremely encouraging. There is a great camaraderie in the band and we all learn from each other regardless of ability and all views are listened to in order to further the band musically and visually.
I have loved the sound of the great highland bagpipes since I was a child and when, following an accidental meeting with a friendly crowd from Kernow Pipes and Drums, I was offered the chance to learn to play, I jumped at it.
Having for some years worked in the family music shop in Truro (anyone remember West Country Music?) I had a rudimentary grasp of quite a few different instruments, but the bagpipes have proved to be a whole new world. I can honestly say that they have been the most rewarding to date and would encourage anyone interested in learning to play to come along and have a go.
As a boy in Glasgow, I loved pipe bands and learned to play the pipes with the local Boys Brigade band. After graduating from university, I worked in the USA where I played with the City of Rochester Pipe Band in upstate New York. I then moved to Canberra Australia, where my pipe playing expanded into playing for dancing with a folk band at woolshed dances. A special memory I have in Australia was playing the pipes high up on the roof of a friend’s house overlooking Sydney harbour on the night of the Australian bicentenary in 1988. I returned to the UK in 1988 and I only played occasionally for several years. In 2014 I met up with Alex McColl, who encouraged me to join the Kernow Pipes and Drums, even though I am in Cornwall only some of the time. I really enjoy playing pipes with this friendly and very supportive group.
Born in London but raised in Devon, I disappointed my mother by not wanting to play the violin as a child! Whilst still at school, I joined the Air Training Corps, subsequently joining the R.A.F. as an apprentice. It was at R.A.F. Halton that I was introduced to the pipe bands for which Halton was famous, however, with the pressure of learning to be an aircraft electrician I did not have the time to learn to play the pipes. My only regret in life, even more so since my grandfather had played the clarinet in the band of the Grenadier Guards.
It was while walking the dogs in 2009 that I found somebody’s camera chip on the pavement. I dropped it into the police station in St. Austell and the young lady behind the desk commented on my writing being “just like my pipe tutor’s”. I replied that my only regret in life was not taking up the pipes when I had the chance and received a fairly lengthy briefing on Kernow Pipes and Drums.
I duly enlisted the next week….
I was born in Falmouth in 1945, later joining the CCF band at school in London, where I proudly played the bugle wearing blancoed white gaiters, belt and lanyard. But it was to be over 50 years before I marched with another band. I joined Kernow Pipes and Drums in 2013. In 2014 I was privileged to play with the band at the 70th. anniversary of Operation Market Garden in Arnhem, where this photograph was taken.
I would urge anyone who is tempted to learn the pipes or drums to join us without delay. With the help of our skilled tutors, you will soon experience the thrill of marching and playing with a pipe band, and make many new friends.
Born, educated and brought up in Edinburgh shortly after the retreat of the last Ice Age.
Served two years at Her Majesty’s request in the RAF. Scottish CA who spent all his International career in industry, from whisky distilling (third generation), aerospace and microbiology. Sails his Legend out of St Mawes which he finds much less energetic than the mountaineering of his early days.
Now retired from playing, but still looking after the KP&D finances!
I joined the Kernows in 2017, after seeing a performance at Newquay harbour festival. I had been interested in playing pipes for years as I’ve always loved the sound, so when invited to come along to a practice night, I duly went the following week, and began to learn the pipes!
After many sessions with the very patient pipe major, and lots of encouragement and support from the band, I was very proud to begin marching and playing at events the following year.
Coming from a long history of bagpipers in the family, my great grandfather first got me interested in piping at a very young age. At the age of 16 I was playing for the Essex Caledonian Pipe band in which I competed at grade 4 and grade 3 at many competitions that included the European championships and cowel games.
I then became pipe major of the Britannia Pipe Band for four years before moving here to Cornwall.
I’m a professional driver, a Dad, and a true Cornishman with roots in Cornwall dating back to the Celtic tribes and a family tree going back to the early 1500’s in the Stithians area of Cornwall.
I was 7 years old when my parents took me on holiday to Scotland where, one day as we drove up through Glen Coe, we heard the bagpipes echoing amazingly around the glen. We came across a lone piper on the roadside in full No 1 Dress. The harmonics & atmosphere were not only breathtaking but also life changing as since that point I’ve always wanted to play the bagpipes!
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until 2016 that I got the determination to follow this dream after yet another Scottish holiday. This time I was with my partner Beth (who also plays in the band) and we saw The Vale of Atholl Pipes Band playing which reignited my childhood dream. Later that year we both joined Kernow Pipes & Drums and have been made to feel like family.
I’d encourage anyone thinking of learning the pipes or the drum to get in touch.