Here are some of the people (in roughly chronological order) who provided
inspiration or help with traditional music in general but especially piping.
The musical welcome received by Carole & I when we arrived at Mount Hooley Cottage was wonderful. The Dicksons, Margaret Ian and
Carolyn, Willie and Nancy Taylor, Will and Bella Atkinson and, of course, Alistair and Liz Anderson and Alistair’s parents Lloyd and Dil
all gave us a sense of belonging. Geoff Purvis was a legendary figure and his father Ron gave me fiddle lessons in 1983. Much later David
Hume joined Geoff, Jamie and me for some great nights as “The Full Stottie”.
The best bit is that the story continues and I have had the real treat of working with hundreds of pupils at Folkworks events including Border Box
run by Colin Bradford (now an independent organisation) and Cracking Ceilidh Bands with multi-talented David and Joey Oliver and the
exceptional Stewart Hardy.
Mike, Kath and Kathryn Tickell were all regular attenders of the Folk workshops at Wallsend Arts Centre in the late seventies. I took down a
set of pipes by Archie Dagg for dental student Bridget Wilson who unfortunately couldn’t afford them. Mike bought them for Kathryn and you
all know the rest of the story. Kathryn originally joined Dennis Ogle in the beginners class but rapidly moved up to the advanced class where
she joined Chris Ormston. Jane Gillon (Robson), Peter Walton and Neil Smith also added to the mix.
Gerry Murphy my flatmate (1968-1970) discovered a copy of The Northumbrian Minstrelsy in Manchester Library and photocopied all of the
pipe tunes. Gerry and I shared a set of pipes at first until I got my own set in June 1970. In those days there were no professional pipe makers
and only 3 examples of piping available to us on record; an EP by Jack Armstrong; the pipes duet track by Colin Ross and Forster
Charlton on the High Level Ranters LP “Northumberland For Ever” and the original 78 of Tom Clough’s 1929 recording for Columbia.
(Found and purchased from a Harrogate Market stall by Ron Elliott). Ron, wife Sandra Kerr and daughter Nancy were regulars at Low Newton.
Bill Hedworth made pipes for Gerry & me when were still seeking ebony walking sticks and lignum vitae mangle rollers to make our own pipes.
This was the only advice given at the time to the question “where can we get two sets of pipes?” !!
David Hillery heard Gerry & me playing Lads of Alnwick on concertina and tenor banjo and invited us into his home to give us regular pipes
lessons and encouragement.
Billy Pigg, John Doonan and Foster Charlton; Their version of “Lark in the Clear Air” on “The Border Minstrel“ album caused such a flood of
tears and delight that I lost a morning in the lab. John, Foster, Carole and I subsequently joined Ernie Kirkby and the Saddler Hall group on a
mini tour of Austria and Czechoslovakia. John and I joined Benny Graham as the Minstrels in James Kirkup’s “Cyrano de Bergerac”. This ran
for a month at the (then) University Theatre and precipitated the use of the Colin Ross plastic G chanter photographed for the Billy Pigg album.
David and Elsie Burleigh provided replacement pipe parts, shared their music and took Carole and me up to Rowhope for our first meeting
with Joe Hutton, John Armstrong of Carrick and Archie Bertram.
Dick Hill (who had lessons from Billy Pigg) and George Atkinson (son of Will) were
first class pipers with beautiful tone and style who made a huge impression on me when I returned home from my studies.
My parents Joe and Lily gave unstinting encouragement even if my dad (an accordionist) was less than impressed when I promised to learn the
guitar I'd been given and just played chords. 'That's not playing, that's just vamping' was dad's accurate but deflating analysis. Those words
encouraged me to take up banjo and mandolin and play tunes - all learnt by ear from Dubliners and Louis Killen records. Jim O'Boyle began
coming to our house with his accordion and instrumental music took off.
Current activities include duetting with wife Heather who, along with Anthony, is a member of The Castle Band (Northumbrian dance band) and
Windy Gyle Band (Northumbrian concert band)