Every one of our pipers has had to earn their place in the band. Starting with video auditions to make the first cut, then regular attendance at practices to ensure they are all capable of playing to an acceptable standard. For some its their first time playing in a band, others fit it in with playing with their local pipebands.
Over the coming weeks we’d like to introduce you to the real people who make up the band.
Our Lead Piper Sandy started piping as a wee boy aged 9 (just a few years ago). He played with his local Boy’s Brigade pipe band until he moved to sunny Eyemouth in the Borders, where he was pipe major for some years. He’s used to the big ocassions having played at Edinburgh Castle and marching down the Royal Mile.
In later years he was playing for himself – then joined Saor Alba Pipes and Drums.
He’s not sure how he became our lead piper but is loving all the banter from all the rest of the band and band assistants !
Co-founder / Piper
Derek is based in Hawick in the Scottish Borders where he runs his own Electrical/Electronic Service Engineer business covering all Scotland and North England.
He started learning bagpipes in 2013 with Hawick Scout Pipe Band which has a busy schedule with over 30 engagements a year so plenty of opportunity in the Massed Band and Street Band circuit.
During the 2014 Campaign he piped with several of our band members (Chris Davidson, Derek Lammie) and George Linton
Derek is politically active having been a member of Hawick SNP and voted SNP since the 1980’s and being involved in campaigns for the SNP and Yes Scotland since 2013.
He was very keen to bring a bit of Scottish culture via Piping and drumming / music to the Scottish Independence Movement, and has to take a lot of the credit for the birth of Saor Alba Pipes and Drums as one of our founding members along with Jim Edwards and George Kempik.
Alasdair Brian MacMhaoirn (Mearns)
Assistant Lead Piper
Alasdair lives in Rogart on the family croft with his wife Brenda where they keep a fold of pedigree highand cattle. But he hasn’t always lived there.
His family, originally from Beauly, emigrated to Canada, and that’s where he began is piping career over 45 years ago in Ontario. He played in a Canadian Legion band and later became a member of the City of Guelph Pipe Band while attending the University of Guelph. The City of Guelph Pipe Ban under PM Ed Neigh were regular Grade One prize winners in the 1970’s and 1980’s and they won the North American Grade One Championships in Maxville Ontario. Alasadair was their Pipe Major for a year after P.M. Neigh left the band.
He has had a long competitive solo career – both in Canada and more lately in Scotland. He has competed on a number of occasions in the Canadian Gold Medal, and the Dunvegan Medal, in Skye. He is a regular prize winner at many of the games in Ross and Sutherland. He has always studied his craft with the best possible instructors – notably P. M. William Macdonald (Benbecula) and he currently studies with Pipe Major George Stewart.
Away from piping Alasdair is a very busy man. Having earned a PhD in Scottish History he is now senior lecturer in language and history at Scotlands Gaelic College, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on Skye. He is a Martial Artist and a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Along with his wife he has a shop/clinic “Alternatives” in Tain in Ross-shire.He has even been known to perform acupuncture on some of our band members !
Daniel is currently the youngest piper in the band at just 15 years old. He lives on a croft in Bonar Bridge in Sutherland so has a lot of travelling to do to get to practices and events. Daniel started playing the chanter at just 7 years old having weekly lessons in school. For the last couple of years he’s been playing with the Royal Burgh of Tain Pipeband, where he teaches a weekly chanter class. When Daniel isnt playing his pipes in a band he is playing his pipes at home !
Daniel is pretty miffed he’s not yet old enough vote so sees the band as one of the few ways he can try and have an influence on the fight for Independence.
Shauna comes from Kilsyth and lives in Clackmannanshire. She has 3 boys (aged 23, 21 and 11) and has been working in local governement for 31 years.
She learned to play the bagpipes at the age of 40 with her local band and enjoys playing at gala days and travelling with the band.
When she’s not piping she likes reading, sleeping, rum and horses, but can’t stand shellfish, self service checkouts and noise !
Shauna got the chance to go to New York to play at Tartan Day recently.
Shauna really values free education and free personal care and wants Scotland to make its own decisions.
Our lovely June started to learn the pipes at the age of 10
Unbelievably she is now 60.
She plays with our band because she cant think of a better cause – she’s very passionate about Scottish Independence
Chris is probably one of our better known pipers, and claims to be our most photogenic !
He lives in the central belt where he’s an HGV driver and Driver trainer – so keep a lookout for him when you’re on the road.
As a passionate Jacobite he commemorates, educates and loves a drink (but not necessarily in that order)
Chris would love to see a free Scotland so our future generations can make their own choices and have the power to change their own destiny
JR is originally from Shetland. When the family moved to Aberdeen he followed his Great Grandfather Alec Ewan into playing pipes. In the early 1990’s he played with Bucksburn and District Pipes and Drums before moving to Glasgow. He loves playing the pipes for friends and family and random events such as playing Amazing Grace for Japanese Butoh performers. But he’s never felt the need to join another pipe band til now.
In 2014 during the Indyref he was involved with RIC doing mass canvasses and he played pipes for some of the events. The most memorable was the 6th Sept 2014 on the steps of the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. A few thousand Yessers had gathered to have a party. JR and a biker piper provided the music. It was amazing to be there that day hearing them sing along.
JR believes that as Westminster continues to fail and break its promises, Scotland needs to be independent more than ever. He’s in this band to try and help make that happen, to play music and have a lot of fun doing it.
Photo by Chantal Guevara
Neil lives in Inchture with his wife Gail and 3 kids. He works in a nursery as a play assistant.
He began learning bagpipes at the age of 12 and was taught first of all by his father, Peter. He spent many years with his local pipe band (Kinross and District) as well as spells with Torphichen and Bathgate pipe band and Kelty and Blairadam. In 1991 he took up the Scottish small pipes having saved up every penny he earned to buy a set of Hamish Moore’s pipes.
Neil also plays tin whistle and Guitar and when he’s not playing with our band plays plays lots of traditional music and in ceilidh bands.
Mike is 62 and lives in Edinburgh.
Between 1974 and 1987 Mike served with the Queen’s Own Highlanders. In civvie street he worked for Scottish and Newcastle brewery for 13 years . Now he plays and teaches piping (www.edinburghpipers.com).
Mike wants Independence for his grandchildren Kelsey (17), Callum (13), Kenny (8), Poppy (2) and 6 month old Ellie. He lives in hope ….
Jean Pierre Faure
JP is a French national (from Aquitaine, south west of France) and a keen promoter of the Auld Alliance. He picked up the pipes in 1976 as a student in England, had tuition with a Breton pipe band in Paris the following year before moving to Constance, Germany, to study. He has been playing since then with a number of continental pipe bands and as a piper with the Belgian Celtic punk rock band The Black Tartan Clan (2007 to 2009). He played a few years at the Lament for Culloden and still performs as a solo piper, e.g. for the Irish Embassy in Brussels, Scotland House (the Scottish government representation to the EU) and various public and private events. JP also plays the smallpipes.
He studied in France, England, Germany and Belgium (English language and literature, theoretical linguistics and international politics). JP works in the field of international relations with a focus on legal issues and Brexit. He loves composing, writing (his latest manuscript is called “Scotland’s Flags”), sketching and painting. Currently based in Brussels, he will retire next year and will navigate between Brussels (where his daughters and granddaughter live), Aquitaine (at his 12th century home) and Scotland (his contribution to keeping the Auld Alliance alive – “the French and the Scots stick together!”).
Karen hails from the beautiful Kingdom of Fife.
She originally took up the snare drum at the age of 12 at her local pipe band as her wee sister was already a piper there. Some years later Karen at the tender age 36, decided to try and learn the pipes, some in her circle said she’d finally seen the light. Karen has now been playing for nearly 15 years (giving her age away) and has played at many galas, fetes, weddings etc. In 2008 along with her sister she started up the Methilhill Community Pipe Band.
Karen had a brain op in 2012 and didn’t think she would be able to march along side a band again, but as the saying goes “where there’s a will there’s a way!” She’s now the only band member that plays in a wheelchair, all made possible “with a little help from her friends”. Karen still has serious ongoing health issues and says the NHS has been fabulous. She believes that we can not afford to lose this great organisation. At the very least our children deserve all the benefits we had growing up, but should also be entitled to something we didn’t have – a ‘VOICE’.
Give Karen a wave when you see her on the march.
Hugh is 52 years young and served with 1st Battalion Kings Own Scottish Borderers.
He gained a distinction on the 93/94 pipe majors course at Edinburgh Castle. Hugh competed at grade 1 with BT Polkemmet. SInce then he has played at many prestigious events.He was the Lone Piper at Australia’s Victory in Europe 50th anniversary celebrations in Canberra. He’s played at Tattoos, The Festival of Remembrance, Retreats on Horseguards Parade, the Royal Variety Performance, State banquets, State Visits ….. the list goes on and on.
His piping has taken him all over the world -visiting countries including : Sweden, Finland, Norway, UAE, Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Luxembourg, Poland, Czech Republic, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, USA, Turkey, Cyprus, Quatar and a few others he’s forgotten !
Hugh loves Strawberry Tarts, but hates liver, kidney and hearts.