Lewis Turrell commenced piping in Auckland at the age of seven under the tutelage of Mr W.M. Kennedy of Greenock. From the age of twelve his family spent two years in Wellington where he received instruction from Mr George MacLennan of Inverness.
Lewis competed successfully in New Zealand and Australia before travelling to Scotland, arriving in March 1957 after a five week journey by boat.
Studying under Pipe Major Donald MacLeod at the Bridge of Don Barracks, Aberdeen, in 1957 he won the Piobaireachd at the Royal Braemar Gathering, the first piper from outside Scotland to do so. In 1958 he became the first overseas piper to win the Highland Society's Gold Medal at the Northern Meeting in Inverness. At the same meeting he also won the Strathspey and Reel and the Jig, a feat rarely achieved. He also came second in the March to fellow New Zealander, Allan R Dodd.
Pipe Major Donald Macleod with Lewis Turrell, Inverness 1958
Whilst in Scotland Lewis also enjoyed a season with the "White Heather Group", piped for a tour with the dancer Bobby Watson, and piped for the Highland Dancers at an International Folk Festival in Dublin.
Returning to New Zealand in early 1960, Lewis pursued a successful business career and in the seventies became more involved in Pipe Bands. Lewis was Pipe Major of the City of Invercargill Pipe band from 1975 to 1982, leading the Band to Grade 1 New Zealand Champions in 1979 and 1980. At the same time he was Pipe Major of the Pipes and Drums 4th Otago-Southland Regiment. In 1982 he was appointed Pipe Major of the City of Wellington Pipe Band, taking the Band to five consecutive New Zealand Championship wins. In 1987 the Band was guest Band at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. He was appointed the Queen's Piper for New Zealand in 1977 and held that office for Her Majesty's tours until 1986.
Awarded MBE for services to piping in 1981. Lewis judged extensively throughout New Zealand and Australia.
In October 1987 Lewis returned to Auckland and set up his business "Lewis Turrell's House of Scotland" in Mt Eden. He continued to enjoy piping for pleasure, composing, and assisting talented young pipers. He also piped for the Balmoral Dancers for twenty-three years. In 1994 he piped with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra under Sir William Southgate at the Australasian Premiere of Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies' "Orkney Wedding At Sunrise", an event which he enjoyed immensely. Lewis was also often asked to be the Master of Ceremonies for Pipe Band and Piping Concerts, a task he relished.
Lewis A. Turrell MBE, 1994
His collection of bagpipe music was published in Scotland in 1999.
After a battle with lung cancer Lewis passed away on April 21st 2011.
Today his business is carried on by his family.
Lewis Turrell's House of Scotland Limited
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