The Life Member Award is the highest award given to a member of the Pipers and Pipe
Band Society of Ontario. It is presented to Past Presidents and to individuals who have
made outstanding contributions to the Society. At the November 8, 2014 PPBSO AGM,
two distinguished members will receive a Life Member Award: Bob Worrall and
Born in Wingham, ON, raised in nearby Teeswater, educated at Waterloo Lutheran
University and the University of Western Ontario … teacher in Burlington, ON…all
this from 1951 to 1979.
For the PPBSO, this is all superseded by his contribution to the world piping scene
and this Society in particular. In 1963 Bob started piping lessons with Bill Millar, a
transplanted Irishman from Omagh. Thus commenced his illustrious musical career.
On the pipes by the spring of 1964 and competing in less than a year in his first
contest, little could his musical future be foreseen. He rapidly rose through the
grades of amateur piping and by 1970 was promoted to the Professional ranks on
the PPBSO circuit. He studied in the early 70’s under Pipe Major John Wilson of
Toronto and Edinburgh, developing superior light music skills and a burning
passion for piobaireachd. This boded well for the years that he studied under Willie
Connell in London to refine his understanding of Ceol Mor.
Many a great player has contributed to the history of the PPBSO through their
competitive years, but none were as dominant as Bob Worrall from 1971 to 1984 –
winning 12 Champion Supreme Awards for Professional Piping. In the middle years,
1975 to 1977, he represented our association admirably in Scotland by winning
major prizes at the Northern Meeting in Inverness. He joined the ranks of Ed Neigh
and Bill Livingstone in making a mark for Ontario piping at the home of
Our Society is about bands as well, and here also, Bob has made a huge contribution.
He started in the Grade 4 band in Teeswater and graduated to Bill Millar’s Grade
One Goderich Pipe Band while still in his teens. By 1968, he moved to the Davie
Adamson led City of Toronto (Cabar Feidh) and remained with them later under
Pipe Major Chris Anderson, with only a brief sojourn to play in the London Service
Battalion, in loyalty to his mentor Bill Millar. In 1972 the General Motors Pipe Band
was re-energized under PM George Campbell and many of the City of Toronto
players made the trek to nearby Oshawa – Bob included. He would leave
competitive pipe bands for good at the end of 1975 as his studies took him to
London and eventually his relationship with Willie Connell.
For so many, retiring from a solo and band career would mean exactly that – gone
and perhaps out of the scene completely, but not for Bob Worrall. His career since
1983 has been one of commitment and service to the PPBSO and the broader
piping/pipe band world as an adjudicator, composer, PPBSO executive member,
Music Committee chairman, advocate for universal piping and drumming
qualifications for all judges, author and creator of our examinations for adjudicators,
chief examiner and a host of other functions.
In the mid 1980’s, Bob was one of 5 respected PPBSO adjudicators to organize and
earn international recognition by the RSPBA, bringing with it the responsibility of
adjudicating the World Pipe Band Championships and other majors in Scotland and
Ireland. In future years he would be recognized by the Competing Pipers Association
in Scotland as a senior adjudicator for solo piping at the highest level.
As ensemble adjudicating, initiated in the 70’s, progressed without much direction,
Bob tackled the issue head on; developing a package for judging that is respected
the world over. He was the prime mover in designing and implementing a very
successful method for consultative judging. He has strongly influenced the pipe
band communities in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand as each attempted to
formulate successful strategies for ensemble and consultative adjudication. In fact,
his workshops in these countries are legendary and still in great demand.
Closer to home, Bob has been a highly sought after instructor. He has given up so
much of his time to improve the standards of amateur piping in Ontario. Students
come to him from far and wide for polishing their light music or furthering their
advancement in piobaireachd. Being a gifted high school educator outside of piping,
no doubt he has received much satisfaction from this pursuit. In fact, just recently
one of Bob’s protégés has been promoted to and is winning prizes at the
Piping and pipe band involvement aside, Bob has become the singular voice for the
BBC broadcasts of the World Pipe Band Championships each August on Glasgow
Green. Thousands tune in over the web to hear his expert insight into all the
performances of the day; a task that only a person of the highest skill could possibly
undertake. His Ontario roots are always to the fore whether he travels to New
Zealand; Australia; South Africa; France; Uruguay; Zimbabwe; the USA or Canada.
Truly he has become the consummate ambassador for the PPBSO with his great
musical talent, his enlightened and passionate approach to teaching and instruction
and all the varied roles he has enjoyed around the world.
Perhaps his greatest accomplishment for the PPBSO has been his foresight to
organize and sustain the George Sherriff Memorial Competition for Amateur Pipers,
held each November in Hamilton, ON. This premier event has seen virtually every
promising younger piper of the day, from Halifax to Vancouver, from California to
New England compete for fabulous prizes and recognition and in most cases
afforded these players a platform for their journey to the professional ranks. Bob
has given of himself tirelessly over the years to assure the contest and the PPBSO
Indeed, the PPBSO and its membership is greatly indebted to Bob Worrall for his
years of leadership and unending devotion to improving the standards of playing,
learning and organizing for the pipe band fraternity here at home and ably
representing us abroad.
Ken Eller – The “Captain”, Pipe Major Clan MacFarlane Pipe Band, International Pipe Band Judge
Charlie was born in Goderich Ontario. He began piping at an early age, was tutored
by Bill Millar and competed at the open level as a solo player. Charlie began his band
affiliation with the Goderich Legion Pipe Band, later becoming Pipe Major of the Port
Elgin Pipe Band, and a member of MacNish Distillery. He has also played with Toronto
and District Caledonia Pipe Band, and the St. Thomas Police Pipe Band. In the more
recent years, Charlie has been active as a solo and band adjudicator.
Charlie is a Professional Engineer with previous work at Atomic Energy Canada and
Ontario Hydro. He presently has his own consulting business.
Charlie became involved with the running of the Society in the early 70’s. Since then
he has held every Executive position: a testament to his dedication to the PPBSO.
As an Executive Member, Charlie was involved in setting adjudication standards and
exams, a revised Music board, as well as the day to day running of the Society and
Highland games. He could always be relied upon to ensure that all rules and by-laws
were observed. Charlie was the PPBSO President (2009-2011) when By-Law #1 was
enabled. Throughout the years Charlie has developed a legacy for meticulous note
taking. He is our official historian, a wealth of knowledge, of Society events past and
present – the longest serving person on our Executive.
Charlie is well deserving of this award as a Life Member, and I am sure everyone will
congratulate him and appreciate all he has done for the Society.
Duncan MacRae – President PPBSO