Within the last six months, the Southern Jacobites have lost two of their most valued assets: Joe MacDonald and John MacDonald.

Joe MacDonald, ex Drum Major of the Queen’s Own, departed our ranks to retire in November 2014. After a vast career, spanning over a few decades, he felt it was time to hang up his mace. His last venture with the band was Andover Remembrance Parade, a very fitting close to his career, having been a military man. All we can say is that we are truly grateful for all the input you gave us in the time that you were with the band and wish you a great retirement; you’re already sorely missed! We presented Joe with a tune written by Iona Scotson (nee MacDonald), called ‘Drum Major Joe MacDonald Hangs Up His Mace’.

"When you talk of commanding officers, there's various names that come to mind; when you talk of RSMs, there are numerous names that come to mind; but when you talk of Drum Majors, there's only one that comes to mind and that's Joe MacDonald." A quote from one of Joe's COs whilst serving.

Then, on the 12th March, we waved goodbye to our founding Pipe Major, John MacDonald, who flew through the sky, headed for a new life in Canada. Anyone who knows John, knows his passion for the pipes. Although his father played the pipes, he never actually took to playing until he joined the Army and was a Junior Apprentice at Chepstow. What was a way of getting out of normal soldiering duties, became John’s true pastime.

John has taught numerous people to play the pipes, his two children included. He’s known for his keen eye to ensure technical correctness, but to bring the piping world together. John’s a very good networker and, believe it or not, is known by many across the globe. His daughter was in Sicily piping once, and throughout the course of the conversation, was asked, ‘Do you know John MacDonald Andover?’. Everyone said Iona’s face was priceless; of course she knew who he was! And then other members have said that they’ve been in America and said that his name has popped up.

His piping career so far has been interesting, having taken him to the Nova Scotia, Basel, Virginia, Moscow Tattoos but to name a few and also the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2010. John has competed at a solo and band level in a few of the Southern competitions over the years. When his daughter was a dancer, he played for dancers at the local dancing competitions. Alongside his band, he’s also played alongside the Chieftains. The list goes on, but as you can see, his piping career has been quite adventurous and interesting!

It was with his passion that John started up the Southern Jacobites Pipe Band in April 2010. From what started off as a handful of pipers and a drummer, with no money in the bank and no uniform, it soon expanded, much to his networking abilities and enthusiasm. The aim was never to be a competing band, but an extremely good and professional hobby band, which, along with the help of others, he achieved in a short space of time. If you look at the members list, the majority are ‘home-grown’, either having been taught by John initially or for the majority of their piping careers. I think this shows just how much he is respected as a teacher, in that their loyalty has always laid with him. John is an avid promoter of the National Piping Centre Tutor book, one which the band now uses as it’s primary teaching resource. It was from this that he decided to create band sets around this book so that learners could integrate quicker into the band, having already gone through these tunes whilst learning.

From everyone in the band, all we can say, John, is a sincere thank you. Your time, commitment, enthusiasm and passion did not go unnoticed. We have a few short stories from members of the band about John below which I think capture his true spirit. We wish you well John and can’t thank you enough for the input. All the best.

John was presented with an engraved silver chanter upon his departure.



“Bon Voyage and Thank You to John MacDonald our Pipe Major who has recently moved to Canada. John is a superb piper and teacher and is so enthusiastic. Over the last few years he has taught both my children the bagpipes and they are now fully part of the Southern Jacobite Pipe Band. I would like to pass on my thanks for his commitment to the band and his patience during his teaching! I know he will keep in touch and I wish him well.” Sam, Tenor Drummer



“It all began when we moved to Scotland in 2007, with weekends spent on Buchanan Street, watching the Buskers of Glasgow and in particular the inspirational performances by Clanadonia!

This was followed two years later, by the move down South, to Board at a very English Preparatory School called Sandroyd, near Shaftesbury, in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside.  

It was here that I fortuitously met a Bagpipe Teacher called John MacDonald and I was able to put my dream into reality.  I looked forward to my weekly lessons with Mr Macdonald and I began the journey of learning the Chanter.  It was not long before I progressed onto The Goose and felt more and more passionate about the Instrument, linking my vision of our Scottish Ancestry. 

We had such fun with Bagpipes at Sandroyd and being the Youngest Piper, I had quite a following, with much encouragement ... I partiularly liked walking the corridors and my favourite pastime was to stand at the top of the stairs in the Dorm and perform Morning Call at 7.00am, in waking the School, ready for another busy day !

At this time my Mother and Father were living in Germany and I spent many a weekend at School, creating characters around my Bagpipes.  My favourite being "McCosh", who became my signature and later I went on to write a short story called "McCosh : The Highland Spirit", about a Scot who saved his home in the wild glens of the Grampians.  I completed the illustrations shortly after and bound the story as a keepsake of my adventures at Boarding School.

During all this time of course it was John MacDonald who guided me towards success with my pipes and who once a teacher, soon became a mentor.  The epitome of Scotland and "A Jolly Good Guy"  !

Thank you John!” Algie Fooks  (13)




Firstly I would like to say good luck on your new adventure but I’m sure you won’t need luck as I know from experience how committed you are and if you want something or someone to join your band you will get it.

I remember when you pursued me (following me in you police car!)  for months, in fact years to join a band and it was when you told me that you were going to start up your own band in Andover it was then I had to give up on you hounding me and join you in setting up the band..

On that day when I came over to see what your intentions were, it was then I realised how much I actually missed being in a band. I would like to thank you on hounding me down.

The band now is going from strength to strength and this would not have of happened without your commitment and passion for Pipe Bands.

Now that you have left, I’m sure Iona will follow in your footsteps on building our band and with my backing, along with the other members, your Pipe Band will continue to grow and make you proud of your achievement.

All the best,


David Baird
Southern Jacobites Pipe Band.

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