Letter to the editor

For a couple of decades, our dad - Dr Ian Clement - was a very proud and happy member of Wingham Pipes and Drums.

As a fiercely proud Scotsman, the band formed a huge part of both our parents' lives.

They would pipe at public events, weddings, funerals, and our dad quickly learned not to play the bagpipes at football matches.

Unfortunately a whole lot of factors stacked up against our father.

He battled Chronic Fatigue for 30 years and eventually couldn't blow the pipes anymore.

It broke him to give piping away.

And now at age 82, dementia has set in.

Several months ago, this brilliant, funny former doctor was admitted into a nursing home in Forster, separated from his wife Annette after almost 60 years together.

He finds it hard to communicate, barely speaks and often doesn't recognise people.

Today something magical happened.

We were notified that dad's old band mates would be playing in the park at Tuncurry, as part of a Prostate Cancer fundraiser, so we brought dad along.

We set up camping chairs and a picnic blanket in the sunshine.

The band was great.

At the end, Wingham Pipes and Drums marched out to the tune of Scotland the Brave, but instead of leaving the venue, the members marched past us, wheeled about and turned back, then completely encircled our little family on the grass.

They stood in formation, all of them in a circle, facing our father. 

In a touching gesture, the pipe major rested his hand on dad's shoulder.

Fellow piper and old friend Bruce Spence broke ranks and shook dad's hand, and the band piped two tunes, just for him.

It was a moving tribute to an old friend.

Dad was beaming.

I don't know if our family can ever thank the band enough for their love and kindness.

We will never forget this.

Nicky Elliott,

on behalf of the Clement family.