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Pipers strike a chord with the King after being awarded special Coronation Medals

King Charles has awarded Gordonstoun’s pipe band special commemorative medals for playing the pipes during the Coronation celebrations in July.

The King, a former student of the Moray school, chose four pipers from Gordonstoun to pipe him into St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, where he was presented with the Honours of Scotland - the Scottish Crown Jewels.

The four have now received the King Charles Coronation Medal to mark their contribution to the King’s celebrations, when they played his favourite tune, ‘Bonnie Lasso Fyvie’ as well as ‘Scotland the Brave’.

Last month, former students, Elspeth Spencer-Jones and Patrick Blair, accompanied by piping instructor Scott Oliphant, were presented with their medals during an audience with the King at Balmoral, his official royal residence.

Student Hamish Martindale, who was unable to attend Balmoral, recently received his medal from Simon Cane-Hardy, Head of Gordonstoun Senior School, in a special ceremony at the school.

The honour for the school comes after the King awarded the Championship Shield for the best pipe band to students from Gordonstoun Pipe Band during the annual Braemar Gathering in September.

Elspeth Spencer-Jones, who recently graduated from Gordonstoun and is now at University in Edinburgh, said: “It was a great privilege to parade out onto the grounds of Balmoral on such a beautiful day to receive the King’s Coronation Medal from the King himself. We were fortunate to speak for a few moments with the King as he presented us with our medals.

“He asked us various questions about what we were up to, and he was interested to hear about my first year at University and about the sports I played at Gordonstoun. The King was very grateful to us for having piped for him at the event at St Giles and thanked me and rest of the Gordonstoun pipers personally.”

Gordonstoun was the last pipe band to have been presented with the Braemar shield by the late Queen Elizabeth II and the first to receive the shield from King Charles.

Scott Oliphant added: “The past few months have all been a bit surreal. To have met the King three times in such a short space of time, while having the opportunity to play the pipes, is something that will live with me forever.

“The big thing that got me when we received the medals was how genuine and interested the King was about our piping band. It was inspirational to hear from the King how he even tried playing the chanter while he was a pupil at Gordonstoun.

“To receive such a special honour makes it all worthwhile - the dedication from our students is a real credit to the school.

“Over the past 20 years, we have grown piping at Gordonstoun from one student to more than 150 piping and drumming.”

The Gordonstoun Pipe Band has students, aged 12-18 years, from 35 countries including the UK, Germany, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Thailand.

Many of the students were first introduced to the pipes through a programme at Gordonstoun’s Junior School, that ensures every child plays a musical instrument.

The band’s next big engagement is at the world-renowned Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament in April next year.

Lisa Kerr, Principal of Gordonstoun, said: “It was an enormous privilege for four of our pipers to be chosen to take part in the King’s Coronation celebrations in the summer.

“To receive the King’s Coronation medal is a well-deserved and worthy reward for all their talent and dedication. The school is hugely proud of our pipe band, and I suspect there will now be a few more students keen to take up the pipes or drums after this latest accolade.”

The medal design features a double portrait of Their Majesties, The King and Queen Consort, on the front and a version of the Royal Cypher, a laurel wreath and the date of the Coronation on the reverse.

The ribbon is made up of red, blue and white vertical stripes to represent the colours of Union Flag.

November '23