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Tributes to Wester Ross accordion stalwart; Rory MacLeod fondly remembered for BBC radio show; Box player hailed an 'ambassador' for Scottish music

By Neil MacPhail

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Rory MacLeod: Warm tributes.
Rory MacLeod: Warm tributes.

FOLLOWERS of Highland music were saddened to learn of the death at the age of 80 of Rory MacLeod who was a founding member of the Highland Accordion and Fiddle Club and a popular host for Scottish dance music on BBC Radio Highland's Rory's Reel back in the 1980s.

Born and brought up in Strathcanaird, in Wester Ross, Mr MacLeod was an accomplished player on the piano accordion, and latterly was the chairman of the Highland Club, as it became known.

For 20 or so years he ran a taxi business in Inverness but illness caught up with him over the last few years, and he died at home in Inverness peacefully on Thursday, November 14.

The audience at the latest club meeting in the Waterside Hotel, Inverness, was told: "Rory was a true ambassador of our music and the pinnacle of his career was undoubtedly his induction into the National Association of Accordion and Fiddle Clubs Hall of Fame, a major feather in his cap."

Mr MacLeod took up the accordion as a teenager in Wester Ross playing at weddings and ceilidhs with other local players. He also played drums in various bands when needed.

He moved to Inverness, where he was a car sales rep with MacRae & Dick, and met many like-minded folk, both players and enthusiasts, and when Highland Accordion and Fiddle Club was founded by the late Alistair Watters in November 1973 in Cummings Hotel, he became a leading light.

Mr MacLeod retired as chairman in 2008 and was made an honorary life member. He will be remembered too for producing the club’s Highland Showtime at Eden Court Theatre in Inverness for a number of years.

Rory's Reel began in 1986, and more than 300 live transmissions were aired, initially as 30-minute slots but then as one-hour shows due to their popularity.

His friend and drummer Bob Wares said: "The programme ended in January 1993 and he found the last programme to be a very emotional affair, bringing tears to his eyes."

Mr MacLeod is survived by his widow Mhairi, daughter Fiona and son Gordon.

The funeral was held in Inverness last week. Donations were invited for Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie.

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