Passing of ‘piping’s voice’ - Mr. Tommy Millar MBE

Tommy Millar, MBE.
Tommy Millar, MBE.

The local pipe band movement has lost one of its best-loved personalities with the death of Tommy Millar MBE.

Mr Millar, known as ‘The Kilted Runner’, made his mark as a columnist and broadcaster covering piping and drumming in the popular Tartan Talk column in the News Letter and the Ballymena Times.

The 84-year-old was best known as the voice of pipe bands through his weekly radio shows on the BBC.

He started piping at the age of 15 in the Cullybackey band of the 1940s and 50s under Pipe Major Alec Penney and his dedication to the Northern Ireland pipe band movement saw him made a life ambassador by the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association NI Branch.

He made a significant impact in the last couple of decades when he started presenting Sunday radio programmes ‘Pipes and Drums’ and ‘A Touch of Tartan’.

Mr Millar’s distinctive north Antrim accent and turn of phrase made him a firm favourite with pipe band fans and also a wider audience. He had been instrumental in persuading BBC Northern Ireland to cover the All Ireland pipe band contests and he was the commentator for their yearly piping television programmes which brought the movement to a wider audience.

He received the MBE in the 2012 New Year’s Honours for his services to pipe bands in Northern Ireland.

Winston Pikerton, president of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association NI Branch, said: “Tommy Millar was for many years the voice of pipe bands, so well known in his weekly radio programme where his Ulster Scots accent fitted so well with the great highland bagpipe.

“His support in promoting the pipe band scene both in radio and press over many years will always be remembered.”