Alex Salmond visited Kilmarnock this month to give the go-ahead to the procurement process for the construction of a new £50 million campus.
While there he met our very own Stuart McCallum and Allan Rorison. Stuart is an alumni of the college and Allan got his job at McCallum Bagpipes through the Princess Trust which is based in the Kilmarnock College.
The heartfelt letter below is from one of our customers describing why she ordered a very special set of McCallum Bagpipes. We would like to thank her for letting us share her story and the pictures.
I cannot thank you and Stuart enough for the great care you took in making my new set of pipes. I knew I wasn’t, but you always made me feel like your only customer. They sound every bit as beautiful as they look! Your suggestion to consider custom engraving on the larger presentation ferrule rather than on something detachable was brilliant. I’ll share with you the inspiration behind my request by way of telling you a little bit about the two young men whose names and KIA dates you affixed to the bass stock. I had never met either of them, but one had grown up in the community where my husband and I had raised our son and the other in my hometown.
Felix Del Greco had a strong desire to be of service to his community that was evident even as a young boy. Known as “Fee-Fee” to his friends, he was personable and gregarious, and had a great love of learning. An Eagle Scout and a loyal member of BSA Troop 76, he was a favorite cook on camp outs because of the strange but often wonderful recipes he concocted. He joined the Connecticut National Guard while still a student atSimsburyHigh Schooland began training during the summer between his junior and senior years. After graduating in 1999, he enteredNortheasternUniversity, where in recognition of his academic achievements that first year he was named the military’s Freshman Scholar of the Year. He had a goal of one day seeking the highest office in the land and no one who knew him thought it was beyond his reach.
In early 2001, he volunteered to serve a six-month tour of duty in war-tornBosnia, earning the distinction of Soldier of the Rotation from among a multi-national force of 10,000 troops. He returned to Northeastern to continue his studies but was called up again after the fall semester. After nine months of security duty atWest Point, he came home in late 2003 and immediately volunteered for Operation Iraqi Freedom II. He was deployed to theMiddle Eastthe following January and assigned to the Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry. Within days of his arrival inBaghdad, the vehicle he was riding in while on patrol struck an IED. Before backup could reach them, RPGs and small-arms fire attacked the column. On April 9, 2004, SGT Felix M. Del Greco became the first Connecticut National Guard soldier to die in Iraq.
Steven DeLuzio was assigned to the 172nd Infantry, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team out ofJericho,Vermont. Moved by the events of September 11th, the 2003 graduate ofGlastonburyHigh Schoolhad joined the Vermont National Guard as a student atNorwichUniversity. Following months of training, he put his education on hold in January of 2006 for deployment toIraq. After his tour ended he returned home toConnecticutto finish his college degree, earned with honors from theUniversityofHartford, and begin a promising career in accounting. Once a Little League all-star himself, he helped coach his own team of Little Leaguers all the way to the Town Championship in 2009. He loved being with his fiancée, his family and friends, rooting for the Yankees and the Bruins, and making people around him laugh.
Feeling a deep sense of responsibility for those with whom he had served, he chose to remain with them when his commitment ended and in the spring of 2010 he was deployed again, this time toAfghanistan. Within 100 miles at any given time was his older brother SGT Scott DeLuzio, who was serving with the Connecticut National Guard. On August 22, 2010, while on patrol in the mountains ofPaktikaProvincenear the border withPakistan, he and those with him were ambushed. In the opening minutes of a two-hour long firefight, SGT Steven J. DeLuzio was struck in the head and killed almost instantly. His final Facebook entry from the night before read in part, “20 days until I’m outta here… a lot to look forward to once I get home, can’t wait.”
Before his first deployment, SGT DeLuzio had a Crucifix inked on his shoulder and the Infantry’s creed “Follow Me” on his back. In an interview with National Public Radio shortly after his death, his parents Diane and Mark shared the story behind another of their son’s tattoos. One day while serving inIraqhis vehicle was stopped by a woman who warned him of an IED in his path. They called in the removal squad and the bomb was defused, making it possible for the soldiers to continue on their way. Returning the next day along the same route, they stopped to thank her for saving their lives but found instead the woman, her husband and children, all beheaded. The experience weighed heavily on him and so to honor her memory he had an image of her face tattooed on his arm.
The loss of these two young men to family and friends is immeasurable, and it is for all of us as we are without the men they were becoming. SGT Del Greco and SGT DeLuzio brought out the best in those around them and they will continue to be an inspiration to others for a long time to come. I thank you both so much for the extraordinary kindness you showed while helping me find a way to honor their memory.
Police Pipes & Drums ofWaterbury
Congratulations to Willie McCallum on winning the Bratach Gorm for the fourth time in London on 5th November 2011. Willie capped off a great day by also winning the overall title, by virtue of winning the Bratach Gorm, 2nd in the Former Winners MSR, 3rd in the Hornpipe and Jig and 4th in the Gillies Cup Open Piobaireachd. Willie was playing his own design McC² chanter. By virtue of winning this title Willie qualifies for the Glenfiddich Championship in 2012, making it his 25th time in succession at the competition.
It was without doubt a successful day for many other competitors who were playing McCallum chanters and/or pipes. Iain Speirs continued his fine form by coming 2nd overall by virtue of 2nd in the Gillies Cup, 4th in the Bratach Gorm, 3rd in the Former Winners MSR, and 2nd in the Hornpipe and Jig.
Niall Stewart took 1st in the JB Robertson March and 3rd in the Gillies Cup.
Alex Gandy won the Hornpipe and Jig, also coming 4th in the A grade MSR and 3rd in the B Piobaireachd.
Steven Leask was placed 1st in the C grade MSR and Hornpipe and Jig playing a full set of McCallum Bagpipes and McC² chanter.
Gordon Walker took 5th place in the Gillies Cup, Callum Beaumont (5th in the Bratach Gorm / 5th in the Marches), Bruce Gandy (2nd Marches), Jenny Hazzard and Andrew Hall (2nd B MSR). Apologies if we have missed anyone from the list.
All the players mentioned have had great seasons and we at McCallum Bagpipes congratulate all of them and thank them for continuing to play and have faith in our products.
The SPSL contest has been running since the 1930’s and the 2011 event attracted possibly the biggest entry in its history.
Congratulations to Iain Speirs of Edinburgh who won the Piobaireachd event at the 2011 Glenfiddich Championship. This caps off a remarkable season for Iain, following his wins at the Argyllshire Gathering. Iain has for many years played a McCallum chanter.
Also in the prizes at the same event playing the McC² chanter were Willie McCallum (4th Piob, 3rd MSR) and Niall Stewart, 4th MSR.
The overall event was won by Roddy MacLeod MBE and we congratulate Roddy on winning his 4th title.
Only 44 days until Christmas.
More importantly it’s only 42 days until all the little elves at McCallum Bagpipes pack up their hemp and whiskey and head away on their annual 2 week holiday.
Please don’t forget to order sooner rather than later to avoid disapointment and to save the elves from getting too stressed. (especially bob elf)
Stuarts new best friend and it’s not Andy…
We have just taken delivery of our new Dugard 200HT/200MC slant bed, high precision CNC lathe.
Andy was delighted when the new machine arrived as it is going into his department but he soon came to realise that it actually just means more work for him. This gave a laugh to all the other guys in the factory.
The new machine will help us produce more practice chanters bagpipe chanters and help with the new range of acetyl bagpipes.
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Roll on the Christmas Holidays…..
Jim and Gavin are especially delighted that last week is over and by with. All hands were at the pumps as we successfully completed our orders for the busiest week of the year so far. Even on an average week we find ourselves very busy but last week was one of those crazy ones that come along 2 or 3 times a year when it’s even more manic than usual. The run up to Christmas is notoriously busy but it seems we have started even earlier this year.
The hemping and sanding fingers are still a bit raw as is Roberts voice from trying to get us all ‘organised’. Hopefully the fingers recover quicker than the voice…..only joking Robert.
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Many thanks to Alex Cross (above left) who sent us these great pictures of the South American Piping Association Band playing recently at their Ceilidh in Buenos Aires, Argentina and then at the Oktoberfest celebrations in Cordoba, Argentina where the band are invited to play every year.
Thanks to all the SAPA who do a great job in representing the Scottish Community in Argentina.
Congratulations to the A & B Grade Winners of the SPA Juvenile Competion held at the College of Piping last weekend the 8th Oct 2011
B Grade Winners (pictured above)
Piobaireachd – 1.E Iannetta-MacKay 2.Donald Stewart 3.Lewis Russell 4.Fraser Anderson
March – 1.Alastair Hutcheon 2.E Iannetta-MacKay, Fraser MacKinnon 4.Steven McNair
S&R – 1.Fraser MacKinnon 2.Steven McNair 3.E Ianette-MacKay 4.Harris MacLennan
Most Promising Piper in the B Grade – Kyle Shead not in the prize list
B Grade Overall: Eireann Iannetta-MacKay
A Grade Winners (pictured above)
Piobaireachd – 1.Caitlin MacDonald 2.Ross MacKay 3. Mathew Anderson 4.Iain Crawford
March – 1.Ross MacKay 2.Ross Miller 3.Iain Crawford 4.Caitlin MacDonald
S&R – 1.Iain Crawford 2.Andrew Brodlie 3.Ross MacKay 4.Mathew Anderson
Jig – 1.Andrew Clark 2.Fraser Hogg 3.Iain Crawford 4.Caitlin MacDonald
A Grade Overall Winner Ross MacKay
A Grade Overall Under 15 Winner Andrew Brodlie
Congratulations to all these young pipers
All three are pipers and play with their local band.
Scott Figgins and Dillon Brown both play with Irvine & District Pipe Band
Duncan Clarke plays with Mid Argyll Pipe Band
Many thanks to the lads who done a great job all week from us all at McCallum Bagpipes