Major Bruce Hitchings, MBE BEM was born in Hunterville, New Zealand. He started playing the pipes at the age of nine. By the time he was sixteen he was playing with the New Zealand Champions – The City of Wellington Pipe Band. Bruce visited Scotland in 1975 with the band, and the following year, came back to compete around the Highland Games circuit for what he thought would be a couple of years. Instead of returning home, Bruce joined the Black Watch Territorial Army as a Piper in 1977. In 1978 he enlisted as a regular into the Queen’s Own Highlanders. The following year he won the Silver Medal for Piobaireachd at the Argyllshire Gathering. The Regiment always endeavored to have its top players compete at the Argyllshire Gathering in Oban and the Northern Meetings at Inverness where Bruce won numerous prizes including second in the March and Strathspey/Reel in 1980. Bruce continued to compete successfully around the Highland Games when his Army career permitted. He attended the Pipe Major’s course at Edinburgh Castle in 1980-81 receiving instruction from Captain Andrew Pitkeathly and Pipe Major Angus MacDonald MBE and continued to receive on-going instruction from them until their deaths. In 1986 he became the Battalion Pipe Major, a position he held for six years and during this time was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM). The last eight years of his military career was spent in the post of WO1 Pipe Major, the Senior Pipe Major, British Army and Chief Instructor at The Army School of Piping, The Castle, Edinburgh. His main responsibility during this period was teaching future Pipe Majors for the British Army and was rewarded with the Member of British Empire Medal (MBE) for services to Army piping in 2000.
On completion of his regular service, Bruce was commissioned into the Territorial Army with responsibility for the development of piping within the Reserve and Cadet Forces.
After a total of 33 years service, he finally resigned his commission (Major) in 2011, and continues to be held in highest esteem in military and piping circles.
Bruce set up the highly successful Highland Reeds company in 2000 and has developed new piping products with an aim to simplify the science of piping. His Balance Tone Drone Reeds and range of moisture systems are popular with pipers the world over for both their simplicity and effectiveness. He continues to work on innovative products to make the life of the piper easier. Throughout his career Bruce played at many prestigious events for both the British Royalty and foreign dignitaries. He remains in demand as a piper through teaching and running schools and workshops in the U.S., Germany, Austria and France on a regular basis. Bruce also judges internationally and many of the Scottish Senior competitions, including the Silver Medal at the Northern Meetings 2013. He gives recitals in places as far afield as China, New Zealand and the USA.
In 2012 Bruce was appointed as a Board Member of the College of Piping and as a member of the Piping Committee for the Northern Meeting Piping Competition. He continues to be a Senior Examiner for the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) / Pipe & Drums Qualifications Board (PDQB). Bruce has two sons, Seumas and Finlay who play in the pipe corps of the Ullapool & District Pipe Band which was voted Pipe Band of the Year at the MG Alba 2013 Traditional Music Awards.
When time allows away from piping, Bruce enjoys hill walking and is usually joined by his dog, Trigger.