Tag Archives: Gray Helliwell

Bruce McLeod

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June 20, 2017

The notice we put in the paper said ‘a perfect bandsman’ and those are not words that we would say lightly. When talking about our friend Bruce the list of adjectives includes dedicated, dependable, enthusiastic, hard working, helpful, reliable, supportive, cheerful and kind.
Bruce took up the pipes after he attended the clan MacLeod reunion in Australia in 1999. With typical Bruce determination and stickability he found a tutor, Gray Helliwell, so that in 2003 he was able to stand on stage and play Amazing Grace and Highland Cathedral at the clan MacLeod celebrations in Christchurch. He was persuaded, by Gray, to come along to a band practice and despite his initial trepidation, he was hooked. From 2004 Bruce has been a piper who enjoyed his piping and made a big contribution to the band. In his own words “not being one to give up easily I have persisted and slowly mastered a reasonable number of tunes”.
After the trip to Bundanoon in 2008 Bruce said “if I never progress beyond where I am today I will never regret joining the band and the enjoyment this band has brought me.”
Well, he did progress and in 2011 Bruce was a member of the band that played with the brass band in a concert to raise funds for the Christchurch earthquake appeal and in 2012 he again travelled to Australia, this time to Melbourne, with the band. Over the years he played in all our parades, whenever he could, and even purchased his own full uniform so he could look the part for Anzac Day and Art Deco parades.
We all have our own memories of Bruce but for me the effort he put into getting things right and playing to the best standard he could stand out. He was always cheerful and got a lot of enjoyment out of his music and band activities.
In the past few days band members have been reflecting on Bruce’s presence in the band and this is epitomised by these comments from the mother of two of our youngsters: “He was an extremely kind man to the kids at band. They spoke very highly of him and he will be sorely missed in the Napier Pipe Band.”
That was Bruce, always helping, always interested in piping and band things, always supportive of everyone.
To finish let me quote Bruce again. In the band’s 2009 book ‘Ten Busy Years’ he said ”We each have a talent which only needs awakening given the right opportunity. May our souls grow from the pleasure we bring to others through our music, our song and dance.”
Bruce, we are privileged that you have shared your talents and gifts with us, something we will always remember. May your soul rest in peace.

Gray Helliwell

We paid our tributes to Gray Helliwell, Life Member of the band, on Friday 18 November. Gray made a significant contribution to pipe bands over his life. Starting out as a pupil of Don Sargent in Dannevirke he played the Dannevirke High School band, the Ruahine PB and the Waipawa PB before moving to Napier in 1969. As tutor of the Napier Boys High School band and Pipe Major of the City of Napier PB’s #2 band he played a big part in the lives of the many people he tutored over many years.  He was awarded a Life Membership of the band in 2016 in recognition of the enormous contribution he made to our bands here in Napier.  Gray was a dedicated, loyal and reliable member of the band who willingly shared his knowledge and his piping talents with everyone.  “Going Home” from his last parade.

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