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Medal presented to Inverness pianist for 'what I enjoy doing most'

By Margaret Chrystall

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Sheila Bruce, well-known as an accompanist for choirs in Inverness, received her British Empire Medal on Saturday at a ceremony at Culloden House Hotel.

Sheila Bruce with her British Empire Medal. Picture: Anne Gillies
Sheila Bruce with her British Empire Medal. Picture: Anne Gillies

Afterwards, the musician said: “I’m not used to being a celebrity!

"To be honest, I felt a bit of a fraud because I was being rewarded for what I enjoy doing most ­– not just playing the piano, but playing for people!”

The medal was presented by James Wotherspoon, the Lord Lieutenant of Inverness-shire. The honour was first announced in June.

Mrs Bruce, now retired after 44 years in the role of accompanist with Inverness Choral Society, and also working with the nurses’ choir, was recognised for services to the community in Inverness and the Highlands, and for giving enjoyment in her music activities and work for charity over the years.

Mrs Bruce was rehearsal pianist for Inverness Musical Theatre in earlier days when it was still called Inverness Opera Company – and played piano duets for 10 years with Rena Beaton for fundraisers.

Since her retirement from accompanying the choirs, the plan to join a choir as a singer, has moved on. Sheila will soon be joining the alto section of Inverness Choral Society and also the nurses' choir where sopranos currently outnumber the alto voices.

“I’m going along to the choral society’s next concert The Creation in November, and will join the altos after that and will sing in the Carolthon before Christmas. So I will still be involved with the choral society. The only trouble is, I haven’t sung for so long, I will have to do some work on the voice, I think!”

It was only after the ceremony that the retired former music teacher got the chance to examine her medal in more detail, having heard one of her sisters say it would have been nice if Sheila’s name had been on it.

“Yesterday I had friends in and they were having a look and we found my name is on it, engraved round the rim – I hadn’t thought of looking there!”

Looking back at the presentation event on Saturday, Mrs Bruce said: “The occasion, the company, the Lord Lieutenant – who was lovely – the food, staff, everything went so well. I’m so pleased everyone seemed to enjoy it as much as I did."

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