Scotland: Historic bagpipes return home to fulfil the dying wish of a former world champion

Archie McGeachy was born in Cambeltown in 1932. He was aged 14 years when identified as someone with promising bagpipe talent and given the gift of a set of Henderson pipes. Using the pipes Archie played at the Queen's Coronation in 1953 at the age of 21 and went on to become a world champion piper. He emigrated to North America  where his interest in piping continued, playing with other talented musicians and as a member of Pipe Bands. He also formed a band in Ontario Canada called Kintyre. Sadly, Archie McGeachy died at the age of 83 years at home in Ontario in November 2015.

Before Archie died he had told his family that the pipes, which he took across the Atlantic when he emigrated in the mid-sixties, should go to a fresh talent. Archie’s widow, Maura, and his daughter, Karen Sparkes, worked with those in the piping fraternity in Canada and Scotland to ensure that his wish of bequeathing the instrument would come true. Canadian piper Bob Worrall contacted Kintyre Schools instructor Ian McKerral to identify a suitable emerging young talent to receive the pipes.

The young piper chosen was fourteen-year-old Calum McKillop from the Scottish town of Campbeltown (Scottish Gaelic: Ceann Loch Chille Chiarain). Although presented in the summer, the pipes underwent a significant refurbishment before Calum finally got them a few days before Christmas. He is the same age as Archie McGeachy was when originally he received the pipes and they have now returned to Archie’s hometown of Campbeltown. 

In an interview reported on BBC Scotland Calum said: "It just makes you think how lucky you are to learn an instrument and then to be given pipes such as them," he went to say, "Archie did quite a lot of things with the pipes, winning things, and I've got to try my best to replicate what he's done. It's a challenge and it will be hard to reach the heights that he did."


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