US pipe dreamer bags a degree

August 26, 2005

Texan student Norman Wigington's history degree from Strathclyde University is a by-product of his love of the bagpipes.

Mr Wigington, known as Maddog, took up piping in the US despite having no Scottish ancestry and decided to come to Scotland to improve his playing further. "As an American, the only way I could stay legally was to study," said the new graduate.

He founded the University of Strathclyde Pipe Band with Craig Martin. It has just won second place in the new band category of the World Pipe Band Championships held in Glasgow.

Mr Wigington said that at least two other universities appeared to have pipe bands but he had not encountered them at competitions. "We hope this starts a bit of a trend and other universities set up bands," he said.

Strathclyde boasts the world's best bagpiper in its finance office. Willie McCallum, who teaches on its BA in applied music, has won the world championship Glenfiddich piping title a record-breaking seven times.

The band recently won £2,000 from Strathclyde's alumni fund, which went towards the cost of material for the band's kilts. These use Strathclyde's official tartan, based on the Anderson tartan to commemorate founder John Anderson and the City of Glasgow tartan.

The band hopes to become "champion of champions" at the Cowal Highland Gathering in Dunoon this weekend.

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