GROWING up in Shawlands, Andy Melvin first started playing the bagpipes in the BB when he was just 11 years old.

He never imagined that one day he would be preparing to meet the King, to receive one of the country’s highest civilian honours.

“I thought it was one of my friends playing a practical joke on me when I first read the letter,” he says, with a laugh.

Glasgow Times: Andy Melvin, who will receive the BEMAndy Melvin, who will receive the BEM (Image: Gordon Terris/Newsquest)

“You never think something like this is going to happen to you. But after the second or third reading, I realised – this is real...”

Andy, 71, who now lives in Netherlee, has been awarded a BEM (British Empire Medal) in the King’s Birthday Honours list. He is one of four BEM recipients from Glasgow. A former Glasgow Times Scotswoman of the Year and two inspirational community stalwarts will receive the MBE.

As Pipe Major of Williamwood Pipe Band, Andy took the band from the brink of collapse in 1975 and led them to back-to-back World Championship titles. From a handful of local boys with no leader, the band at one stage had nearly 100 male and female members.

Glasgow Times: Andy MelvinAndy Melvin (Image: Andy Melvin)

The band has travelled abroad around 40 times in the last 30 years and he has been invited to teach pipe bands all over the world, from the Isle of Man to Chicago.

Andy’s company, Piping Services Scotland, has transformed the industry, providing both employment and a guided skill set for numerous musicians and developing the art of the piper into a highly regarded profession. His company took more than 700 wedding bookings last year alone.

His sons, Douglas and Iain, are now involved in the running of the band too.

Glasgow Times: Andy with his sons, Douglas and Iain.Andy with his sons, Douglas and Iain. (Image: Andy Melvin)

He is “absolutely delighted” at the thought of receiving the BEM, but admits it will be an occasion tinged with sadness.

During Covid, Andy cared for his wife Marion, who had cancer. Sadly, Marion died in February 2022.

“She’d have thought this was absolutely fantastic,” he says.

Glasgow Times: Andy MelvinAndy Melvin (Image: Gordon Terris/Newsquest)

The last three years have been tough, Andy admits, as following the death of his wife, he discovered he was having difficulty breathing while playing the pipes.

“It turned out I had a problem with the main pumping valve of my heart and I needed open heart surgery to fix it,” he says. “It was a bit of a shock. But the NHS saved my life and I’m very grateful.”