CLAN HONOUR

THERE’S an immediate sense of pride when you step into Max Morris’ humble home. 

The yellow, red and black tartan - the Tartan of the Lewes - is found in the most unique of places.

It's on a blanket strewn on the couch and on a keyring with the muted tartan blazing the Scottish heritage. 

And then there’s Max. 

He's 85-years-old and ready to draw a breath. 

Dressed in his traditional attire he has worn countless times in the past six decades, the Bendigo man jumped at the chance to tell his story. 

It was only a month ago that he retired from the post of Pipe Major in the Clan MacLeod band. 

And even though his lungs will not let him play the bagpipes as he once did, nor march proudly as he would want to, Max will still lead the band this Easter Sunday.

The Clan MacLeod celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, and will continue its tradition of waking the dragon at the annual Bendigo Easter Festival. 

They will lead the procession to mark the milestone, with Max being transported in a car and new Pipe Major Darryle Kenyon taking over the role for the first time. 

"We've travelled the world but it's always an honour to put on the uniform and perform for Bendigo," he says. 

The band was founded in Max’s father’s house, with Max the only founding member remaining. 

He remembers a different time back in the early days - many men were thrust into the war and those left behind turned to music to soothe the ache. 

“Many pipe players went to fight but those left behind really needed to find something to do," he said. 

"We found music."

Max said things were hard to get and people learnt to make everything they needed during the war - including pipe parts that often needed fixing. 

Stringing together tartan chords became a great pastime for Max, who still whittles away the hours while making pipe parts for fellow members. 

The Scottish heritage has always been deep in his heart. 

“I started playing as a young boy of 14,” Max says. 

“My great grandmother and great grandfather played the pipes and I was always deeply interested in bagpipes, even as a young boy.

We've travelled the world but it's always an honour to put on the uniform and perform for Bendigo. - Max Morris

“I’ve always had a fair bit of viking blood and back then, pipes were more popular.

"Just the sound of them attracted me."

A look in his shed - piled high with jars of screws and nails and painted boards and anything anyone could ever need - reveals another side to Max. 

"Another side to my heritage is the making of things - and I've made many a float in my day for the Easter festival," he said. 

And while he said float-making - and even bagpipes - were becoming increasingly unpopular, Max still attends band practice twice a week and finds refuge in electronic pipes - something he continues to play every day.

He will not let age weary him. 

“There really are too many memories to even get started,” he begins. 

“I remember the world Clan MacLeod gathering in Bendigo in 1999 and playing at the Sydney Opera House and in 2003 the band visited Auckland for another worldwide gathering.

"We're lucky to have gone through all this and represent the clan."

And this love of music - and the bond of the band - will continue for many years to come. 

"I tried to retire last month but they've made a new title for me. I'll be known as Pipe Major Retired and will keep the heritage going," he said.

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