Labour leader’s a reel contender
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