Pipers’ Oxton tribute to pioneering Thomas

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A PROCESSION of pipers will lead the funeral cortege of Thomas Grotrian when he is laid to rest at Oxton next Thursday.

The musical tribute is being organised by friends of the 38-year-old who died after a tragic accident in Nova Scotia, Canada, on Saturday, July 23.

Mr Grotrian is credited with being one of two pipers who took the concept of massed parades oversees – to cities like New York, Paris, Shanghai and Rome – following their initial success in his native Edinburgh.

He was 10 when his parents Andrew, who was brought up near Peebles, and Sarah moved to Channelkirk during the 1980s. He was educated at private school in England.

Mr Grotian Snr said next week’s procession will accompany his son’s coffin from the family home to Oxton cemetery at noon.

Mr Grotrian died suddenly after falling down a flight of stairs into a cellar at a friend’s house.

He had moved to Canada in 2006 to take up a post as marketing director of the Nova Scotia International Tattoo.

The previous year, he and long time collaborator Magnus Orr, a fellow director of Edinburgh-based events firm Epic Concepts, had set a record of having around 8,500 pipers parade through Holyrood Park.

Previous records had been set on Princes Street in 1995 and 2000. In the former event, Australian artist and entertainer Rolf Harris agreed to learn the pipes to lead a massed parade through the capital. The event, which attracted a crowd of 300,000 with almost 3,000 pipers taking part, was a fundraiser for Marie Curie Cancer Care with whom Mr Grotrian’s mother worked as the charity’s secretary.

Rugby legend Gavin Hastings led the 2000 event when more than 7,000 pipers were involved.

Mr Grotrian and Mr Orr persuaded the authorities in New York to allow them to stage a huge parade of pipers down Fifth Avenue in 2002 during the city’s Tartan Day which is now an annual fixture.

The pair’s efforts around the world, which secured the involvement of Prince Charles, Sir Sean Connery and Sir Jackie Stewart, saw the events raise more than £750,000 for the cancer charity.

“It was Thomas’s vision and determination that brought thousands of pipers and drummers together to march along Princes Street,” said Mr Orr, 41, who is organising next week’s procession.

“The really big one was in New York in 2002 because nothing of that kind had ever happened before. The authorities didn’t want to allow it at first, but they couldn’t really give a proper reason why it shouldn’t be allowed.

“It was a huge shock to hear about Thomas. We were still very good friends, even though he was in Nova Scotia in recent years.”

Sarah Grotrian, who is now retired, said: “Thomas had been out with friends celebrating someone’s 40th birthday and was apparently about to go home when this happened.

“He always lived life to the full and had a great group of friends over there. There is going to be a big memorial service for him in Canada in November and we’ll be going over for that.”

Richard Hambleton, managing director of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, said: “Thomas was a great friend of the tattoo.

“It was always a pleasure working with him on his charitable fundraising pipe band parades with which he became synonymous. He will be sorely missed.”