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Special praise for piper Jim

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By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
Special praise for piper Jim

PIPER Jim McConnachie has been presented with a special award for his “outstanding” contribution to piping and the local area.

He was recognised by Dumfries Lions Club with their community award.

For many years since moving to Dumfries Jim has taught hundreds of young pipers who then graduated to the Corberry Park Pipers – and all for free.

He said: “I was quite pleased about the award. It was very out the blue . . . they got me up there under false pretences and then I realised, ‘That’s me they’re talking about!’

“It was a low-key ceremony held at one of the Lion’s member’s houses with the president handing over the plaque to me.”

“It’s nice to know someone appreciates it. I was taught by my father and so I never paid for lessons, which is why I’ve never charged for lessons anywhere I’ve taught.”

He explained how he started up in Huntly, in Aberdeenshire, where he is from originally, and was the pipe major of the Huntly pipe band and has been teaching ‘off and on’ since then.

“That was in my ‘20s and I’m 86 now,” Jim said.

“It was 23 years ago that four young laddies knocked on my door and asked me to teach them the pipes.”

He praised the talents of today’s youngsters and added: “About two years ago we went onto Zoom or Skype lessons as we couldn’t meet up for practices and so on – that’s worked very well.

“My wife sets it up and I do the lessons. I’ve also got three assistants who help me.”

John MacColl, of the Lions Club, said: “Jim and his Corberry Pipers Band are considered friends of the Lions Club, having had a long association with them at fundraising events over many years, and we decided that his outstanding contribution to piping should be recognised.

“We were pleased to present him with the Lions Club Community Award – it is the club’s highest award that can be bestowed on members of the public who make a major contribution in their area, and we consider Jim to be a worthy recipient.”

The club added that free tuition for young pipers, some of whom have competed successfully at piping competitions outwith the region, was an “exceptional contribution” and encouraged local young people to take up the instrument.

Meanwhile, Mr McConnachie says the group is keen to recruit new members looking to learn and other pipers are also welcome: “We don’t charge for lessons and they’re from seven years upwards.”

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