A PIPER IN THE SCOTTISH BRANCH
At 15 years of age, Catherine Pounder (known as Cath) was challenged to a tennis match. The loser would have a lesson on the chanter; the pipe of a bagpipe with finger holes on which a tune is played. She lost the match and the rest is history. Within the year she was a fully-fledged member of the Annan Pipe Band in her hometown in Dumfriesshire.
In 2001, Cath qualified with a BSc in Psychology from the University of Stirling which she funded by being a Motorcycle Instructor as well as playing her bagpipes at weddings and social events. This continued during her Adult Nurse training at Edinburgh Napier University until she qualified in 2003. In fact, every course she has completed since then has been funded by money earned playing those pipes. She worked as a Staff Nurse in the Accident and Emergency unit at Stobhill Hospital, Glasgow (closed) and then Glasgow Royal infirmary where she became a Charge Nurse and Emergency Nurse Practitioner. During this period, she completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Forensic Medical Sciences at the University of Glasgow, Mental Health Nurse training at Edinburgh Napier University and the Emergency Nurse Practitioner course at Glasgow Caledonian University. Since 2019, Cath has been employed with the Scottish Nursing Guild, a private nursing agency, and is an Emergency Nurse Practitioner in major Accident and Emergency departments in hospitals across the central belt of Scotland. The reason for this new post was that she wanted more time for further study and to accept opportunities to travel and play her bagpipes. Last year she began a Masters (LLM) Healthcare Law and Ethics at Dundee University and, of course, became involved in nursing patients affected by Covid -19.
Captain Cath Pounder QARANC (V) joined 205 (Sc) Fd Hosp (V) in 2001 as a Private and was commissioned from the rank of Sergeant in February 2020. She is currently a senior nurse in the Emergency Department within the unit and has been involved in military exercises in America, France, Germany, Italy, Norway and UK. She represented the AMS at a parade at 10 Downing Street to celebrate St Andrews Day and was a Wreath Bearer to HRH Princess Anne at the centenary commemoration in Edinburgh for Dr Elsie Inglis. In 2015, she gave a presentation on the History of Military Nursing at the Chief Nursing Officer’s Symposium, and, in 2018, formed part of the Muster Parade at the Remembrance Ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
She was awarded the Glover Prize that same year. Cath is currently a co-opted member of the QARANC Heritage and Chattels Committee and a keen supporter of the QA Association.
Throughout all of this Cath has continued to play the bagpipes. After a tough audition, she was accepted as a member of the Pipers Trail, a formation of individual pipers and drummers from organisations across the globe. She has played at the Military Tattoo in Edinburgh for the last three years, where she has had the honour to be the Acting Pipe Sgt for the final parade and to lead it from the Castle Esplanade and down the Royal Mile. She has piped at military events as far afield as Australia, China, Germany and Norway. On a battlefield tour in Belgium, she piped at the Menin Gate in Ypres, and at the graveside service in Loos for Piper Laidlaw VC, a Scottish piper.
When piping at any event, she wears the AMS tartan which is non-issue and she privately purchased. The QARANC Association funded the purchase of the banner for her bagpipes which has a beautifully hand embroidered QARANC crest sewn onto it. During lockdown, Cath has managed to wear this attire on many occasions. Where possible, each Thursday evening, she played the bagpipes on her front doorstep during the 8 week Clap for Carers appreciation, and in June piped to celebrate the 100th birthday of Captain Sir Tom Moore. That month she also accepted a call from HRH Prince of Wales to join hundreds of pipers worldwide in a musical tribute to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the capture of the soldiers of the 51st Highland Division at the St Valery-en-Caux in 1940. She volunteered to pipe the lament at the funeral of Retta Deerin, a previous Matron of 205 (Sc) Gen Hosp RAMC (V), which the family graciously accepted. Most recently, in full tartan regalia, she played her pipes over Zoom in celebration of Robert Burns at a supper organised by the Jurassic Coast Branch of the QA Association, and in conjunction with the Scottish Branch. She made us laugh when she said that she wished that she had not put her heating on that evening. All that fabric worn indoors!
Always striving to improve, Cath continues with lessons from the eminent piper, Pipe Sgt Matt Wilson of the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band in Lisburn, Northern Ireland who is actually based at Dollar Academy, Stirlingshire. Her ambition is to attend the prestigious, full-time Pipe Majors Course at the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh. Meantime, she remains on the lookout for pipers and drummers to form a QARANC Pipe Band. Do we have any takers?