Thanks to the Gordon Duncan Memorial Trust, I have been able to continue tuition with Dan Nevans. Piping is my life and gets me through all the challenges I face on a daily basis. Dan’s guidance has been invaluable in my progression as a musician.

After I got the flu in December 2022, I was faced with more health problems than my preexisting complex chronic pain, arthritis and other chronic health conditions. Throughout 2023 I developed severe gastrointestinal symptoms that by September caused me to be unable to eat anything and be fed solely with a feeding tube. I spent 6 weeks in hospital unable to play the pipes or do much else, and just recently I spent another week after getting even worse again in December. My future has so many uncertainties and I’m reaching the bottom of the treatment barrel.

The one thing that has made me stay positive is my piping. Music is more than a hobby to me, it’s my best medicine. Although I haven’t been able to play the bagpipes as much as I would like and have taken breaks that have felt like eternities, I’ve been able to continue lessons online with Dan. Even if it’s just digital pipes or the practice chanter, as long as I continue to play I have one constant glimmer of hope in my life.

Improvement is so important for me. I may be limited in what I can do and that’s outwith my control, but I can manage to play and I will hone it to perfection – no matter how long that journey takes or what’s ahead of me. I have come on leaps and bounds since I started tuition with Dan, achieving infinitely more than I ever could have imagined. Some of my highlights include playing in the Usher Hall twice, once with the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland and again with The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra. I also will never forget the night I got to play with my inspirations Ross Ainslie and Tim Edey in Dunning, or when I recorded some Gordon Duncan tunes with Ross at Tpot Studio a few weeks later. In August I attended the legendary festival Piping Live!, playing in a range of styles from leading the Big Band to Pipe Idol and then a couple of sessions.

Gordon’s music is hugely influential in my piping. I’m so glad to be able to play his tunes and remember his legacy. I hope to write more of my own music in the near future too. Thank you so much GDMT for making this possible.

Submitted by: Katie Robertson
Year of award:  2023