Lefty was an Edinburgh lad and went to Craigmount High School where he played in the school band with Martin Wilson under the instruction of Jennifer Hutcheon. Many years later Lefty was to play in the Drambuie Kirkliston Pipe band where Martin was the Pipe Major.
However the main piping force in his life was the late Hance Gates who Lefty went to on a regular basis for piping tuition. Hance was the PM of Edinburgh City police around 1931.He remained in post until the 2nd World War but he continued to teach in Edinburgh Schools well into his latter years. He stayed in Corstorphine and this was where Lefty learned his craft.
I first met Lefty when we were young boys at the Highland Pipers Society. I didn’t really get to know him very well then but when we played together in the Drambuie band in 1992/93 a firm friendship was born. He was an absolute master at the one line put down and some of his sayings still bounce about today. However most are full of ‘colour’ and not for the printed page.
Whenever we met he would say ‘hello boy’ and at band contests just as we were heading to the line I would hear his distinctive voice say ‘watch the double tone boy’.
We later joined forces playing for Lothian and Borders Police where some of the band trips are now in the ‘legendary’ status. He was a gem and everyone has a Lefty story to tell.
Lefty’s other great passions were boxing and budgie breeding. Strange but true. When we went out to his aviaries that sat omnipresent in his back garden, it always amazed me to watch this hulk of a man with big hands, hold and caress these small birds. He showed his birds and was seen as quite an authority in that arena.
Lefty is being laid to rest at Warriston Crematorium at 13.00hrs this Wednesday 16th May in the Lorimer Chapel. The family invite guests to join them at the Murrayfield Hotel after the service where hopefully some of the great stories will be told.
Lefty is survived by his wife Lorraine and two daughters Jennifer and Nicola.
‘He who laughs last- laughs last’ and ‘It’s not over until the fat lady sings’ were two of his standard sayings. Unfortunately for us all the fat lady is in full voice.
Rest in peace my friend.