Real lives: Piper’s passion inspired future talents to shine

Dr Martin Lowe
Dr Martin Lowe
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Dr Martin Lowe OBE, a leading university secretary and piper, has died, aged 71.

Martin Lowe was born on April 10, 1940, and raised in Dorking, Surrey.

In 1953, his family moved to Scotland and the 13-year-old attended Dunfermline High School, where he first started to learn the pipes.

In 1962, he graduated from St Andrews University with a BSc in geology and went on to research the geology of the western Highlands and Hebrides for his PhD.

While at university he met Janet MacNaughtan, and the couple were married in 1966.

In 1965, Dr Lowe joined the British Council, serving in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Madras in India.

He returned home in 1969, taking up a job as an administrator at the University of Strathclyde, and in 1981 he became secretary and registrar at St Andrews University.

In 1990, he was appointed secretary to the University of Edinburgh, a position he held until his retirement in 2002.

Throughout his life and his work, however, he always continued his passion for piping.

He was a keen player of Highland pipes, Scottish small pipes and Border pipes, and regularly took part in amateur competitions.

He was also able to serve the piping community in a more professional capacity – Dr Lowe was honorary secretary and honorary pipe-major of the Royal Scottish Pipers Society.

He also served as a director with the National Piping Centre, and while there he helped to establish the degree in piping programme with the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the first of its kind in the United Kingdom.

He also helped develop highly successful courses for overseas piping students with Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews universities.

He received an Order of the British Empire in 2002 for “services to higher education” in the Queen’s birthday honours.

He was also involved with the Lowland Pipers Society, as well serving as a trustee for the East Lothian Pipes and Drums Trust, an organisation set up in 2007 to give youth in East Lothian the opportunity to learn the Highland pipes and pipe band drumming.

He was known as a popular and energetic figure in piping circles. As would be expected, given his academic background, he was also known for his focus on the education and learning skills of young pipers.

As well as being a keen piper, Dr Lowe was an enthusiastic climber, and in 1990 he achieved the laudable feat of having completed – or bagged – all the Munros.

Dr Lowe, who lived in Gullane, East Lothian, died on October 9, after a brief illness with pancreatic cancer.

He is survived by his wife, his children Andrew, Shona, Robert and Donald, and eight grandchildren.