Antigonish native Lianne Bradshaw will be entering the Antigonish Highland Games Hall of Fame this Thursday as a member of the Class of 2019.
The accomplished drummer said she was “floored” upon first hearing she was chosen for the honour.
“Humbled,” Bradshaw said, expanding on her reaction.
“It just brought me back to thinking about all the wonderful times that I spent playing in the pipe bands in Antigonish and how lovely it is they would carry on and provide awards like this … and keep that going.
“I was really humbled because I’m in there with some of the most wonderful players and people, and really couldn’t believe that I would be amongst those people.”
In talking about the importance of the Games to her, Bradshaw noted there was never a time in her life when she didn’t know about the Antigonish Highland Games.
“I always wanted to be in the Highland Games ever since I was very young,” she said. “I would have participated in, probably, 30 Games myself, and I really just couldn’t wait to be involved. And I felt really sad on Sundays when it was over, I just enjoyed it so much.”
Being with friends was a big part of the experience, Bradshaw noted.
“The friends and comradery will all the people who were involved; and all the people I know from pipe bands are still my friends,” she said. “It really was a great way to celebrate, a great pastime, with just so many wonderful people involved; and great, great players.”
The induction ceremony will be a chance to reconnect with some of those folks and Bradshaw, who lives in Halifax, said she can’t wait to be there.
“I have a lot of family coming and a lot of people I grew up with in the pipe bands who are coming; some of my drumming teachers are coming … two of them,” she said, noting it will be a “bit of a reunion” while also talking about how “lucky” young drummers and pipers in Antigonish were to have such great role models and mentors.
“I was fortunate that when I was growing up there was this fabulous band ahead of me; those people taught me and when I became more proficient I was then able to teach other people,” she said.
“That circle continues and carries on. I was fortunate to be there at the time I was; be exposed to such wonderful players and to be able to learn all that music.
“To have that as a life-long skill and be able to meet all those people, carry on and have all of those friendships which I still have … I really think I was very lucky.
“Without the Highland Games, there would be a real void there; so many people who wouldn’t have that experience.”
Bruce Gandy by Anita Flowers
Bruce Gandy began to play the pipes while growing up in Victoria, B.C.
“Bagpipes were in the house from the time I grew up. My father was pipe Major of the Canadian Scottish Regiment in Victoria and, with a bit of their prodding, I sort of naturally gravitated to the instrument,” he said.
In 1982, he moved to Ontario to join the 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band and began to compose pieces for the band. Gandy played with the 78th for 15 years, traveling to Scotland each year as well as performing in Canada. He has won a world championship as well as 13 North American Championships.
In 1997, Gandy moved to Summerside, P.E.I., to begin work as piping instructor at the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts, where he worked for three years.
“When I moved east, I naturally came to the Antigonish Highland Games to compete, and I was enlisted to judge some of the amateur events. As one of the ‘senior’ players in the area, it was fun to come here. I’ve had a great relationship with the Boyd family since the beginning, and the people that make the games happen in a true ‘Scottish style’ are to be commended,” Gandy said.
In 1998, Gandy returned to competition and earned a string of medals, including the Inverness Gold Medal, the Oban Medal and the Bratach Grom in London. He credits his teachers with his success but gives the biggest mention to his wife, Beverley.
“She grew up playing pipes in a band family and won the amateur piping prize at Antigonish in the 1970s with her band from Ontario. It’s a huge part of both our lives and without her support this probably would not have happened,” he said.
“I’m very, very humble and am truly blessed to be able to do what I do as a full-time job. I love to see the kids playing, enjoy coaching the others and of course, playing in the Pipers Glen. To be selected to be in the hall of fame makes me very proud and helps to reaffirm that I am doing a few things right, I hope.”