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Tributes paid to piper

By MIG: Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: September 25, 2013

  • Pipe Band

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TRIBUTES have been made to a former pipe band leader.

Russell Jackson, who led the Leek Highland Pipe Band before it folded in the 1970s, passed away at the age of 78 last month after a long illness.

The father-of-four, grandfather- of-12, and great-grandfather- of-one was diagnosed with lung cancer a year ago and had suffered from heart problems previously.

Mr Jackson was well-known in the town, especially for when he led the Leek Highland Pipe Band in the 1960s and 70s, in particular for the town’s annual Club Day.

Daughter Liz Owen, who lives in Leek, said: “He was a great dad.

“He used to talk quite a bit about the pipe band including all his trips to Edinburgh.

“Since he died, we have been looking at all his photographs from when he ran the pipe band.” Liz’s older sister Sheila Eardley had been the mascot for the Leek Highland Pipe Band.

The 53-year-old, who now lives in Newcastle, said: “I was quite proud of being the mascot for my dad’s band.

“I remember going to the Edinburgh Tattoo and being very excited as we were high up and could look down and see how many people were there. as well as see the castle all lit up.” Sheila’s middle sister Kathleen and her brother Martin also played the part of the band mascot through the years. Sheila said: “One of the things I remember most was how my dad used to polish up his bagpipes and badges on his uniform.

“Having been in the Army, he was very keen on keeping everything spotless.

“He used to store the leather bagpipe in the airing cupboard and also rub maple syrup into the leather to keep it moist.” She added: “As a dad, he was great. He always had his sense of humour, even when he was poorly.

“He was very knowledgeable and enjoyed his music.

“It seems to have passed down the family too as my two children played the clarinet when they were younger, travelling to Italy and Spain to perform with the St John Fisher High School Concert Band.” Mr Jackson’s funeral took place at All Saints Church in Compton, Leek, followed by interment at Leek Cemetery in Junction Road.

Sheila said: “We were quite overwhelmed as a family to see the church packed for dad’s funeral. It showed how popular he was. There were a lot of representatives from the places where he used to work.” Mr Jackson, who lived in Leek all his life, served in the Army for a while, before working at Adams, Blue Circle, and the Severn Trent before retiring in 1995.

Before passing away, he gave his bagpipes to Jonathan Whilock who lives in Leek and plays with the Ashbourne Pipe Band. Forty-six year old Mr Whilock told the Post & Times: “Russell was a very generous fellow. I understand that when the Leek band folded, he took a bag of bagpipe bits to the Ashbourne Pipe Band. He was that kind of musician, who wanted to make sure instruments were used and not just left in storage.

“I don't remember the Leek band but met Russell a good few years ago. He was a nice guy, a genuine character.

“I feel honoured that he gave me his bagpipes.” Mrs Jackson’s family are keen to learn more about him and his involvement with the Leek Highland Pipe Band.

including gaining copies of additional photographs. To contact the family, call Liz on 01538 384683.

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