November 30, 2010

Sandy Spence, 1937-2010 (updated)

Sandy Spence passed away on November 2, 2010, after a long period of extremely debilitating and painful illnesses. His example to all in the face of such adversity was quite extraordinary, and he kept a cheerful and forward outlook in all his pursuits, particularly his piping activities.

He was Pipe-Major of the Atholl Highlanders from 1985 to 2004, a period when the private army expanded back to its pre-WWI numbers. He joined the highlanders as a piper around 1956, under Pipe-Major Peter Wilkie, but on becoming pipe-major was entrusted with expanding the pipe corps of six pipers, to a full pipe band of 20 pipers, and had also to recruit a drum corps which had not been part of the regiment since 1915.

Sandy competed on the Scottish games circuit in the 1960s and ’70s and was latterly a well known judge on the Scottish games circuit and this year judged at many games, including Newtonmore, Nethybridge, Braemar and Pitlochry in September.

He took a major part – with Sandy Grant Gordon and Liz Maxwell – in organising the running of the Glenfiddich Invitational Solo Piping Championships at Blair Castle. It was a great disappointment for him that last Saturday he was extremely unwell in hospital and unable fulfil his usual tasks, however, he was sent the results as they were announced and expressed approval.

He came from a well known piping family. His father, Jock Spence being a Seaforth pipe-major, serving alongside Pipe-Major Donald MacLeod at the outbreak of World War II. Both were captured at St. Valery, but Jock remained a prisoner until 1945.

The funeral will be at 2:30 pm, Tuesday, November 9th, at Dunkeld Cathedral, and Perth Crematorium at 4 pm.

Our sympathy goes to his family, Elma, and daughters Lynne and Kirstie and their families.

– submitted by Duncan McDiarmid


  1. This is sad news. I did not know Sandy well at all, but was judged by him on many occasions, and had conversations at the games. He seemed a lovely man, and always took interest in the pipers and the music he judged.

  2. Sandy used to steward during my Glenfiddich days in the late 1980s at Blair Castle. In the midst of a whirlwind trip with pressure to the mix he was always kind and helped bring me down to earth a bit.

  3. Very sad new’s indeed, but rest in the knowledge you are in no more pain Sandy. A gentleman of the highest degree and will be sorely missed. God bless. Pipe Major Gordon Walker.



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