Middleton Cheney piper part of united tribute for WWI centenary

Richard Jasper, who will be playing Major William Robb's When the Battle's O'er, at Middleton Cheney War Memorial at 6am on Armistice Day
Richard Jasper, who will be playing Major William Robb's When the Battle's O'er, at Middleton Cheney War Memorial at 6am on Armistice Day

A Middleton Cheney piper is to join thousands of others across the UK and around the world in playing the same evocative tune to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Richard Jasper will play When the Battle’s O’er at precisely 6am on Sunday at the War Memorial in Middleton.

As he plays the first notes, the same tune will strike up outside cathedrals, churches, war memorials and other buildings around the globe in this historic mass playing by pipers, buglers and drummers of Major William Robb’s retreat march.

“I feel very honoured to be doing this having taken a very keen interest in this era of history and piping and pipers within it from an early age,” he said.

“My parents moved to Banbury from the Birmingham area. We happened to live next door to John Laidlaw who was a piper in the Cameron Highlanders during the Second World War. He taught me to play.

“His uncle was a famous piper, Danial Laidlaw who, as a piper, won the Victoria Cross in the First World War.”

The VC is the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Mr Jasper, who teaches bagpipes at three schools, Rugby, Kingham Hill and Winchester House, is a part-time carpenter and joiner. He has played the Great Highland bagpipe for over 40 years.

He has played at numerous functions including the Queen Mother’s Memorial Concert at The Royal Albert Hall, garden parties at St James’ Palace, corporate banquets at The Guildhall, Blenheim Palace, Warwick Castle, Hampton Court Palace, Highclere Castle and numerous top London hotels and venues.

He has also performed at many Highland balls, festivals and weddings at various worldwide venues and colonial outposts including the Philippines, Bermuda, France, Germany, Sicily and the Cook Islands.

As ‘Ship’s Piper’, Mr Jasper has travelled aboard a number of cruise ships taking in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

He has appeared on TV, film, radio and opera in shows such as Downton Abbey (as Maggie Smith’s butler), a courtier in Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos with Kate Winslet and the opera Mary Seacole at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Educated at Magdalen College School, Brackley, Mr Jasper has competed at the highest level throughout Scotland, Ireland and England.

Organisers of the tribute say: “The most important part is everyone playing the tune together at 6am local time.

“This is the time when the Armistice was actually signed on November 11, 1918. It came into effect at 11am.”