-Pipe Major- (1948 - )
Major Gavin-Neill MacLeod Stoddart, MBE, BEM, was born in Hamburg Germany in 1948, where his father George was serving with the 5th Scottish Parachute Regiment. Gavin received his initial instruction from his father before going to Captain John A. MacLellan at Edinburgh Castle.
In 1964 he became a guest piper with the Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band before enlisting as a piper in the Scots Guards in 1966 under Pipe Major Angus MacDonald. Gavin later became Pipe Sergeant of the 1st Battalion and remained with the Scots Guards until May 1979 when he was approached to transfer to The Royal Highland Fusiliers as Pipe Major.
He didn’t start profession competition until 1980, but during a brief but competitive career that last only through the 1980s, Gavin’s success was astonishing. He won the Gold Medal at the Argyllshire Gathering and the Northern Meeting, and the Gold Medal at Dunvegan and at Braemar. He won the light music event and the former winners March Strathspey and Reel competitions at the Argyllshire Gathering, the Northern Meeting and at London. He won the Glenfiddich Piping Championship in 1983 and 1988, and at that venue he won the piobaireachd twice and the march, strathspey and reel three times. Very few pipers have accomplished so much so quickly.
In 1983, he was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to Army Piping and in May 1987 was posted to The Army School of Bagpipe Music, Edinburgh Castle, as Warrant Officer Class 1 Pipe Major and appointed senior Pipe Major of The British Army.
In 1990 Gavin was commissioned and appointed Director of Army Bagpipe Music at Edinburgh Castle and in 1999 all piping and drumming schools within the British Army merged to form the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming under his command.
He was invested as a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in the 1999 Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for his services to Army Piping and Drumming. During his tenure as Director of Army Bagpipe Music he was responsible for the Massed Pipes and Drums at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. One of his last military duties was to arrange the music and organize the Massed Pipes and Drums for the funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
Gavin retired from the Army in July 2003 after 37 years service, and shortly thereafter became a Senior Instructor at the National Piping Centre in Glasgow. He is a regular adjudicator of senior piping events in Scoltand and travels around the world to teach and judge.