New Jersey piper takes the honours at Mallaig and Morar Games
PIPERS from as far afield as the United States and Germany ensured fierce competition for the trophies at a rain-sodden Lovat Memorial Field for the Mallaig and Morar Highland Games on Sunday.
As well as the keenly contested piping events, the games also hosted the traditional range of heavy events and races.
The overall piping title went to New Jersey professional piping instructor Derek Midgely, who spoke of his delight at taking the top slot.
He said: ‘Of course I’m delighted to have won the overall title, although disappointed I wasn’t able to repeat my success of last year with the piobaireachd.’ Derek also won the Dunvegan Medal at the Skye Gathering in 2016, among a host of other prizes and placings.
Derek, who has been piping for 20 years and coming to Scotland for a decade, added: ‘This is my third games in a row this year and it’s always great to be back.’
A former student of Glasgow University, he is a regular fixture on the Scottish summer piping contest circuit.
At Morar, Derek took top spot in the march section, to which he added two second places for piobaireachd and Strathspey and Reel, plus a third in hornpipe and jig.
Another well-known piping competitor from overseas was Anna Kummerlow, of Germany, who is back in Scotland for four weeks competing on the Highland games circuit.
A professional piper who has been playing for the last 15 years, Anna grew up with the sound of the pipes as both her parents play.
‘This is my third games this week, so pretty busy,’ she told us during a break in competition. ‘The weather’s not great but that doesn’t really bother me. I’m just delighted to be here and taking part and hoping to do well.’
She did do well, taking fourth spot in the piobaireachd and second place in the march section behind Derek.
Games secretary Anne-Marie Buchanan said the weather forecast was probably to blame for the slight drop in spectators, but a reasonable sized crowd had still braved the elements.
‘There’s a lot of visitors and tourists among the crowd and that’s nice to see and when folk are on holiday they want to get out and see things, even if the weather isn’t too great,’ she said.
‘The level of competition in all the events is pretty high, which is good.’
Chieftain for the first time was David Shaw Stewart of Traigh House at nearby Arisaig who, as well as officially declaring the games open, presented the trophies and prizes.
Opening the games, Mr Shaw Stewart told of the importance of the event to keeping alive tradition and culture.
‘ What we have here is the great celebration of Highland culture that our games represent,’ he told those present.
‘The disastrous end to Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite rebellion resulted in a determined effort by the Hanoverian government to abolish Highland dress and customs.
‘But the Highland spirit remained inextinguishable and that is what we celebrate with our games – with all the unique heavy events, but also the wonderful dancing and extraordinary footwork that so enchants us all.
‘And you will have heard the stirring pipes accompanying us down to the games field and I would also draw your particular attention to the piping competitions.
‘These are great classical pieces of Highland music and you will hear the pibroch played in all its glory. There are some of the very best pipers around playing here.’
Right: Abigail Cloughton from Swindon takes part in one of the junior heavy events. f32 Morar Games 3JP
Photograph: Pipes|Drums Magazine. Overall piping winner Derek Midgely, right, with Ceol Mor winner Dr Peter McCallister.
Games 8JP f32 Morar Above: Spectators cheer on some young runners.
Competitors go flat out in the men’s 400m race. f32 Morar Games 7JP
Thor Gylfason from Iceland was a winner at this year’s heavy competition. f32 Morar Games 10JP
Games Chieftain David Shaw Stewart with announcer Ian MacLellan right. f32 Morar Games 4JP
There was keen competition in the Highland dancing. f32MorarGames 6JP
The first girls race gets under way. f32 Morar Games 9JP