Little did Chris Anderson know that when he began playing the bagpipes as a youth with Leith Boys Brigade it would directly lead to him travelling the world, winning international awards and being photographed with Bond girls – but that’s just what happened to one of Edinburgh’s finest role models in piping.
Chris’s father, Christy Anderson, had lived in County Cork, Ireland, and at the age of 12 stowed away on a ship bound for New York, but was discovered and put ashore in Wales. Handed over to his aunt, who luckily enough lived locally, she adopted him before he was called up to serve in the Great War, joining the Seaforth Highlanders in Inverness, where he happened to meet Mona Donaldson. He fought at the Somme, where he suffered shrapnel wounds, and after the War settled in Leith, working on the trams and raising two boys, James, born in 1918 and Chris born on August 26, 1933.
Chris had learned to play the bagpipes through the local Leith Boys Brigade providing him with many competitions and events where he could learn and excel. As soon as he was able in 1953 he volunteered for the First Battalion Scots Guards where he saw service in Egypt and became a member of its pipe band, playing around the world in venues such as Madison Square Gardens.
Chris had by now met his wife to be, Moira Ponton, an attractive Edinburgh lass and they were married in 1956 just before Chris left the Army with a glowing testimony from his commanding officer, to join the Edinburgh City Police and its internationally respected Pipe Band.
Founded in 1882 it was to win virtually every competition, award and accolade available in its 130-year history including the Grade 1 World Pipe-Band Championships in 1963, 1964, 1971, 1972 and 1975 (the final achievement as Lothian & Borders Police Pipe-Band) when Chris played for it, led by its inspirational Pipe Major Iain McLeod, also a Leither.
Due to their reputation the band appeared in many films over the years, including the original Casino Royale, allowing Chris to be photographed with Bond girls. Other films included Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Battle of the Sexes, and Let’s be Happy. Famously the band performed in Moscow’s Red Square, marching past Lenin’s Mausoleum at the height of the Cold War in 1966.
Chris had two loves in his life, piping and his wife Moira, who had raised his family of three girls. In 1984, following his retirement from the police and the band after 30 years of service, Chris decided it was Moira’s turn to see the world and they took to cruising the oceans, between tutoring pipers and composing pipe music.
Diagnosed with a debilitating liver disease that had nothing to do with alcohol, Chris’s first question to the doctor was: “Does that mean I can still take a dram?” To his relief the answer was “Yes!” Up until his death at home earlier this month Chris was President of The Chevaliers Piping Society that meets regularly in Edinburgh Castle and still composed.
Chris is survived by his wife Moira, his three daughters and their children – also all girls – so he was delighted when a great grandson, Jamie, arrived last year to break the all-female spell.