A BARRHEAD musician hailed as “a pioneer of piping” has been honoured one year on from his death.

Iain MacDonald spent more than 45 years as Pipe Major of the Neilston and District Pipe Band but, after a period of ill health, he died in May last year, at the age of 70.

Now his close friend Matt Drennan has led an effort to have a memorial bench erected near Kingston Park to remember “an absolute gentleman.”

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Matt, who is secretary of the Neilston War Memorial Association, told the Barrhead News: “Iain was so friendly and helpful. He was always in the mood for a chat and he had some magic banter.

“He was someone who was there for you and was always happy to help if you ever needed a piper for Remembrance events. He would be there at the drop of a hat.

“When Iain died, it was at the height of the coronavirus pandemic and he was so well-loved that people were lining the streets from here in Neilston right through to Paisley, with pipers on every corner.

“Iain was so highly respected, so I thought that we had to do something to mark his legacy.”

The memorial bench features a piper in silhouette, with a Saltire on either side of him.

Next to it are two plant tubs, each shaped like a drum.

Matt added: “Iain did so much for me and I didn’t want him to be forgotten.

“He took Neilston’s name all around the world with the pipe band, visiting Japan, China, Barbados and France.”

Born on April 23, 1950, Iain spent most of his pre-school days on Great Bernera, just off the Isle of Lewis, before moving to Barrhead when he was five.

He went to Cross Arthurlie Primary and Barrhead High and later worked as a lab technician at Paisley Grammar School.

Iain went on to become head chemist in the anaesthetics department at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Barrhead News: Iain MacDonaldIain MacDonald

A devoted family man, he married Anne Walker and they had children Fiona and Finlay.

Iain also taught music to pupils at schools across East Renfrewshire, including Carlibar Primary, Hillview Primary and Barrhead High, introducing many young people to the world of music.

In an interview for the National Piping Centre’s ‘Noting the Tradition’ series in 2012, Iain recalled: “I always had the feeling that, if the instrument was played correctly, it might extend my world between Barrhead and Stornoway.

“Sure enough, it did.”