Squeezed out by the men? Not any more, as Faye, 18, wins piping prize

AN 18-year-old student has made history by becoming the first woman to win the Gold Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering, one of the most prestigious awards that can be bestowed on a piper.

The "Oban Gold Medal", as it is often called, is one of two donated by the Highland Society of London. They are regarded as the ultimate prizes for exponents of Scotland's national instrument. The other Gold Medal is played for at the Northern Meeting at Inverness. Until the success of Faye Henderson from Kirriemuir this week, the winners have all been male.

Miss Henderson defeated almost 30 pipers from Scotland, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the US and Northern Ireland to take the medal, which is awarded by a panel of judges and is based on the competitors' interpretation of a piobaireachd - the classical music of the bagpipe.

Entry to the Gold Medal competitions is restricted to elite pipers, who have proved themselves on the fiercely competitive Highland games circuit. Miss Henderson's victory came exactly 36 years after her mother Patricia Henderson (nee Innes) and Anne Spalding (nee Stewart) became the first women to compete in the competition.

She said: "The first girl winner had to happen at some point and it is amazing that it is me. All the girl pipers are of a really high standard."