Is this the world's largest piping family?

The McNab clan. Picture: ContributedThe McNab clan. Picture: Contributed
The McNab clan. Picture: Contributed
A SEARCH launched by a one-day piping event to find a family with the most ties to piping has had thousands of responses worldwide.

Piping At Forres, the European Pipe Band Championships, launched a search to find a family whose lives are immersed in the piping scene.

The search went viral with the social media posts reaching over 20,000 people in just 48 hours and one nomination coming from Canada.

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But it was the McNab family, from Pitlochry in Perthshire, whose interest in piping and drumming spans four generations who wowed the judges.

Currently, they have 11 family members, spanning three generations all playing in the same band and they will now be attending the event’s launch party in April when tickets go on sale and have also won a family pass to the June extravaganza along with one of the sought after Piping At Forres hampers.

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Joanna Taylor, a director of Forres Events, the company that organises Piping At Forres - sponsored by Benromach Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky - said she was delighted with the entries that were received.

She added: “As soon as the story hit our social media pages there was great interaction and we were delighted to get so many quality entries. It was a very tough decision with nominations coming in from far and wide.

“Some of the families that entered have won world championships, at least two have found their spouses through piping and there were many that span multiple generations. It has revealed some lovely and heart-warming stories.

“However, the McNab family cinched it due to the numerous years they have been involved in piping, the number of members still currently playing and the new generations starting to learn.”

It was head of the clan, Gillie McNab who entered her family into the contest. They have 11 family members either playing pipes or drums for the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band or just starting to learn the instruments.

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Gillie said: “We are delighted that we have been chosen as the winners. All we seem to do is eat and sleep pipe bands. I was absolutely gobsmacked when I found out. The whole family was surprised, but we feel very honoured.”

Gillie’s passion for piping was fuelled by her father Gideon Scott May who was president of the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band in 1966. She followed in his footsteps and joined the band the following year, so is this year celebrating her 50th year with band. She also made history by being the first female piper to join the band.

Gillie went on to have three sons, who as she explained are all now members of the band too: “They used to come to competitions and were soon brainwashed and all learnt to play the drums. I then had my daughter, Irralee who also got the pipe band bug and she learned to play the side drum then going on to compete on pipes. But that’s not all, three years ago Irralee’s wee boy, Logan became a tenor drummer, and her husband Ian and his daughter Lucy also play, then two years ago my grandson Archie joined and this year my granddaughter Flora joined as tenor drummer. I’m currently teaching my granddaughter Millie the chanter and she’ll soon be ready for pipes. So it really is a family affair.”

This year, Piping at Forres will be held on Saturday, June 24 in Grant Park, Forres and is being supported by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, and is part of Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

The event not only includes world class piping, Highland dancing and the World Tattie Scone Championships but also has a food and drink village, a craft and retail village, bars and family attractions such as funfairs.

Visitors can even try their hand at the pipes and drum themselves.

More than 100 pipe bands from around the world compete in the European Pipe Band Championships, in front of a crowd of thousands, making it the biggest ticketed one-day event in Moray. It has been awarded over 9 out of 10 in feedback each year, and in 2016 was again shortlisted for Best Event in the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards.

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Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “Piping is a quintessential part of Scotland’s history and heritage as are our people. The McNab family are a perfect example of the two and it is wonderful they will help launch this year’s event as part of Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

“Scotland is the perfect stage for events and EventScotland is delighted to be again be supporting Piping at Forres, the European Pipe Band Championships, as part of our International Programme Fund.”

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