Labour leader’s a reel con­tender

Hamilton Advertiser - - ALL ABOUT LANARKSHIRE - Alas­tair Mcneill

A Both­well piper lent his pipes to Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn dur­ing his visit to La­nark­shire.

Hugh Ward, who plays with Ud­dingston Strath­clyde Pipe Band, was de­lighted when Mr Cor­byn tried to play them at the Keir Hardie Memo­rial Din­ner in Tan­nochside at the end of Au­gust.

The 66-year-old ex­plained it has be­come some­thing of a cus­tom for him and Vann Smith, hus­band of Cen­tral Scot­land MSP Elaine Smith, to play the pipes for the Labour leader when he is in Scot­land.

“The first time was just af­ter he was elected leader on his first visit to Coat­bridge. We have played for him a num­ber of times,” Hugh said.

“This was our sec­ond Keir Hardie din­ner with Jeremy. He’s be­gin­ning to think that we are his per­sonal pipers.

“We al­ways joke that we want the job of play­ing him into Down­ing Street.

“He was a real trier. He was giv­ing it ev­ery­thing. He man­aged to get the drones go­ing. It was all very light­hearted and good fun.

“I would have been a change from the po­lit­i­cal world and con­stantly be­ing on show.”

Dad-of-three Hugh, who lives in Wood­lands with wife Ellen, started play­ing the pipes more than 30 years ago.

A re­tired Hack­ney cab driver, he used to prac­tice his chanter while wait­ing for fares at Glas­gow Cen­tral and Queen Street sta­tions.

He was taught to play the in­stru­ment by Ud­dingston Pipe Band founder pipe ma­jor Wilson Shaw and now plays the pipes at the oc­ca­sional wed­ding.

Orig­i­nally from View­park, Hugh said: “I’m still com­pet­ing in grade 4b. My last com­pe­ti­tion was at the Cowal Games in Dunoon.”

One of the most mem­o­rable mo­ments in his pip­ing ca­reer was tak­ing part in the 70th an­niver­sary of D-day in Nor­mandy.

Hugh was part of an ad hoc band com­pris­ing pipers and drum­mers from all over the globe to cel­e­brate renowned D-day piper Bill Mil­lan, who had played at Sword Beach and Pe­ga­sus Bridge.

Hugh was also in Paris in the early 2010s for the end of an Ed­in­burgh to Paris cy­cle race or­gan­ised by mem­bers of Loth­ian and Borders Po­lice. He re­called en­joy­ing tea and cake on the ten­nis lawn of the Bri­tish Em­bassy af­ter­wards.

While in Paris Hugh was in­vited to take part in a memo­rial for French Cana­dian vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies at the Arc De Tri­om­phe, where he played ‘Flow­ers o’ the For­est’.

Po­lice stopped the traf­fic on the Champs-el­y­sees for the pa­rade.

He man­aged to get the drones work­ing

Spirit­ed­jeremy Cor­byn tries out Hugh Ward’s bag­pipes

Lame Ward p the Arc Tri­omp

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