Obituary: Geordie Pryde, miner, security worker and drummer

Born: 5 March, 1921, in Midlothian. Died: 3 January, 2014, in British Columbia, Canada, aged 92

He only took up pipe drumming to acquire a kilt but the ruse took him from the mines of Scotland to become an internationally lauded musician and a linchpin of one of Canada’s world-class pipe bands.

In between, he was involved in the anti-aircraft operation to down enemy bombers sent to blitz the south of England during the Second World War and became a member of Edinburgh City ­Police Pipe Band – only after the force agreed to waive its minimum height requirement to permit his entry as a constable.

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He went on to win the World Solo Drumming Championship before emigrating to British Columbia where he joined the Powell River lumber company, took over its pipe band drum section, performed with a local jazz band and coached the next generation of young drummers.

George Thomas Pryde, known as Geordie, was born in the coal-mining village of Newtongrange in Midlothian, the son of a miner, Geordie, and his wife Nancy. By the age of 14 he was toiling in the mines, the breadwinner of the family after his father was hurt in a mining accident.

He spent several years in the collieries and it was not until some time after the outbreak of the Second World War that he managed to escape the coal industry – a vital but not yet reserved ­occupation – and join the army.

He was posted south to Dover where he was a lance corporal with an anti-aircraft squad of the Royal Artillery, fending off attacking German planes arriving from across the channel.

However, mining would require his services again and after a year he was returned to the pits, transferring to the Territorial Army Reserve in April 1942.

Back home he was part of a musical family and as a small boy had spent hours outside playing with the sticks.

Down the mine he had been known to drum on his lunch tin. He also had a hankering for a kilt and, in a ­successful attempt to procure one, he began pipe band ­drumming with the police.

The Edinburgh City force briefly lowered its height requirement to accommodate his 5ft 10in frame and he joined its pipe band’s drum corps, once again putting the gruelling life of the collieries behind him. He enjoyed great success with the band, winning the solo championship in 1947 as drum sergeant and travelling as far afield as Scandinavia and South Africa.

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He also contributed his ­musical expertise to the ­Edinburgh Tattoos of 1952 and 1955, working on the arrangement of drum scores.

He emigrated to the Pacific coast of Canada in 1957, attracted by an advert for the Powell River Company in British Columbia which was seeking pipers and drummers to bolster its band.

His wife and three children followed three months later.

Tragically, they were to lose their youngest daughter, Nancy, to pneumonia within a couple of years, a loss that affected him deeply.

His experience in the police force had helped him to secure a job in mill security. He also took charge of the Powell River band’s drum section, becoming the leading drummer and one of those instrumental in the band’s success locally, nationally and internationally over the next few years. Although in 1964 he took some time out from the band to concentrate on jazz drumming, he taught widely in western Canada, including as drumming instructor at Saskatchewan ­Summer School of the Arts in the late 1960s and early 70s, and travelled extensively judging at drum schools and tattoos from California to Texas and Idaho.

Just as he had at the Edinburgh Tattoos, he arranged the drumming and also led the drum corps for two Military Searchlight Tattoos in Vancouver.

He also gave lessons in a soundproofed drum room in the basement of the family home and played with a local jazz band at weekend dances where his version of Wipe Out was legendary.

A fitness fanatic, he would swim 365 days a year at many of the River Powell beaches, jogging through the snow in winter to warm up, and could often been seen practising yoga – long before it was fashionable – standing on his head after a dip.

Predeceased by his wife Mary and daughter Nancy, he is ­survived by his children Roddie, George and Margaret, brother Tommie, sisters Peggy, Nessie and Betty and large extended family.