Robert Tunnicliffe Heritage Foundation

Robert Tunnicliffe

Robert Tunnicliffe was an enthusiastic, life long promoter of all Scottish arts. Born in Coatbridge, Scotland, he grew up singing traditional songs, dancing reels and flings, reciting Scottish poetry, especially that of Robert Burns, and playing in a Scottish championship brass band.

Bob took up piping upon moving to America and dedicated himself with zeal to the musical portrayal of the traditional repertoire. His proudest moment as a piper came when he was named Piper to the St. Andrew’s Society of Albany, NY.  He was a stalwart member of the Society until his death in 2011.  Shortly before his death, the Society recognized Bob with yet another great honor with the establishment of the Robert Tunnicliffe Heritage Foundation.

Each year, this Foundation selects a charitable organization in the Greater Capital District, including NY, MA, VT and CT, which has fostered the teaching, creation, and performance of Scottish music, dance, art, and other aspects of Scottish heritage. The Foundation awards a gift of $1000.00, which the receiving organization in turn presents as a scholarship to enable a talented student to pursue educational opportunities advancing his or her art form. The first scholarship winner was piper Andrew Dickinson of Cummington MA, sponsored by the Manchester Pipe Band of Manchester, CT.

Applications from individuals and their sponsoring organizations are now being accepted by the Foundation for this year’s annual award.  Applicants may be pipers, drummers, singers, fiddlers, dancers, poets, visual artists and/or proponents of other Scottish art forms.

1. Both the student and the sponsoring organization must be within the Greater Capital District (including NY, MA, VT, and CT)
2. The student applicant must fill out the application (link below)
3. The student’s sponsoring organization must fill out the sponsoring application (link below)



Applications are due November 1st.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at

Sixth Annual Foundation Award Granted

The Board of the Robert Tunnicliffe Heritage Foundation is pleased to announce Blair Beaton as the 2016 Heritage Foundation award recipient. Blair has been drumming for seven years, beginning when he was five years old. He has drummed with the Scotia-Glenville Pipe Band and is now playing in the 78th Fraser Highlanders drum corps. He says that “playing in pipe bands is important to me because my Scottish heritage is important to me.” Blair has served his local community with his talent by playing in community concerts, parades and competitions. He is consistently in the prize list in Ontario, Canada, including four first-place awards. He has set his sights on the World Solo Drumming Championship. He intends to continue his monthly drumming lessons with his teacher in Ontario and to participate in competitions.

Fifth Annual Foundation Award Granted

The Foundation is pleased to announce Mariah Rust as the recipient of the Fifth Annual Foundation Award (2015). Mariah began studying Highland dance at the age of seven with Heather Morris, her teacher of ten years. She currently takes lessons from Heather at Green Mountain Performing Arts in Waterbury, Vermont, where Mariah is also an assistant teacher. Mariah dances in local performances and competes in competitions across New England throughout the year. Most recently she competed in the New England Open Championship, where she placed fourth runner up. She was also a part of two notable performances in 2015. In November she danced the part of the Sugar Plum Faerie in the Celtic Nutcracker at Green Mountain Performing Arts and in December she was a part of the Highland dance cast for the Revels North production, The Christmas Revels: the Ballad of Tam Lin.

Mariah also takes exams with the British Association of Teachers of Dancing at least once a year. Last spring she took the Grade IV Highland Theory and Gold Highland exams. Her achievement on these exams allowed her to be nominated to compete in the British Association of Teachers of Dancing North American Sadie Simpson Scholarship Competition that was held in San Diego, California for 2015. While in San Diego, Mariah also took her Grade V Highland exam. These exams are meant to prepare dancers for their teaching exam, which Mariah plans to take within the next couple of years. She is also the Director at Large for the St. Andrews Highland dancers of Vermont.

Above all, Mariah loves to share her passion for Highland dance with others. She hopes to keep Highland dance in her life forever and eventually share it with a larger audience. One of her long-term goals with Highland dance is to create a show similar to Riverdance to help bring awareness to the Scottish arts.

Fourth Annual Foundation Award Granted

The Foundation is pleased to announce Maeghan Bielski as the recipient of the Fourth Annual Foundation Award (2014). Maeghan, who has been playing the bagpipes since she was 8 years old, initially took lessons from her mother after asking for a practice chanter for Christmas. Early on Maeghan played with a local Cape Cod pipe band, and then grade 3 Worcester Kilties with whom she travelled last year to Scotland to compete in the World Pipe Band Championships. Currently Maeghan plays with the Stuart Highlanders grade 1 pipe band. Maeghan studies under the tutelage of Donald Lindsay and has studied in the past with David Methven, John Sullivan and Nancy Tunnicliffe. She has attended the Invermark College of Piping and Drumming summer camp in Hunter, New York every year since she started piping. At the camp she has been taught by some of the masters in the piping world such as Jack Lee and Willie McCallum. Over the years, Maeghan has competed successfully in solo competitions, finishing in the top two in the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association every year that she has competed. This past year was her first year competing in Grade 1, where she was ranked in third place in the overall season standings. In addition to competing at regional highland games, Maeghan has competed at several invitational competitions including the Metro Cup Amateur, Balmoral Classic and the Nicol-Brown Chalice Amateur Piping Competition. The Nicol-Brown takes place in the Capital District of New York and invites the top ten amateur bagpipers in the United States and Canada to compete in three events: March/Strathspey/Reel, 6/8 march, and piobairechd. Maeghan was the youngest competitor to qualify and the only person to have been in their first year of grade 1. Maeghan’s parents also play the bagpipes and her two younger brothers are Scottish style snare drummers.

Third Annual Foundation Award Granted

Allyson Crowley-Duncan is the 2013 recipient of the Robert Tunnicliffe Heritage Foundation award.  Allyson is a member of the Eastern United States Pipe Band Association and competes in solo and band competitions.  She placed 2nd in the Eastern United States in Grade 4JR out of 147 youth bagpipers in 2011; 3rd in Grade 3 in 2012 and 3rd in Grade 2 out of 114 bagpipers in 2013; and is currently in Grade 1 for solo competing.  Ally started playing the bagpipes in mid-2010 and has advanced one grade level a year.  She returned from Scotland in August 2012 with the Title “World Pipe and Champion” along with fellow band members from the Scotia Glenville Pipe Band.  She is currently a member of the Stuart Highlanders Grade 2 band of Wilmington, MA.  Ally is a bagpiper with DeVito-Salvadore Funeral home, a volunteer bagpiper for many military events and is the Clan Donnachaidh (Massachusetts) Official Bagpiper for Special Events.

Ally has participated in NYSSMA solos in which she achieves excellent and outstanding marks.  In 2012-2013 she received a letter in music at Shaker High School, was inducted into the Tri-M Music Society and designated as a student leader at Shaker High School during her sophomore year for her many contributions to the music programs in and out of school.  Ally has performed  in the Suburban Council Chorus Suburban Council Jazz Band.  The auditions are opened to 13 school districts and the best are invited to perform with the Suburban Council Groups.

Ally plays and excels in vocal music, bagpipes (4 years); clarinet (8 years); bass clarinet (4 years); alto saxophone (5 years); bari-saxophone (4 years); and piano that she has played on and off for 11 years.

The St. Andrew’s Society is pleased to present this award to a very talented young woman.

Second Annual Foundation Award Granted

The Robert Tunnicliffe Heritage Foundation award was presented to fifteen-year-old Fiona Beaton at the March meeting of the St. Andrew’s Society.

Fiona has been dancing for 11 years with the Braemar Highland Dancers. She currently dances competitively at the Premier level and was First Runner-Up at the Eastern Regional Championships in 2012, qualifying for the United States Inter-Regional Championships. Fiona also enjoys performing at events throughout the Capital Region area and choreographing new dances.

Fiona has completed Medal Tests in highland dance each year in preparation for taking her teaching and judging exams. Based on her exam results in 2012, she was nominated to attend the Scottish Highland Dance Teacher’s Association’s J.L. MacKenzie and Elspeth Strathern Scholarship Program in Toronto, Canada in October. She placed third in the Choreography portion of the competition. Currently student teaching in the Braemar school, she is preparing to take her Associate exam in 2013.

Fiona’s long-term artistic goals include continued success in competitive dancing, teaching, performing, creating choreography, and eventually judging highland dance. She is grateful to the St. Andrew’s Society of Albany for its support of her development as a dancer and teacher so that she can continue the tradition of Scottish Highland Dance.

Robert Tunnicliffe

Robert Tunnicliffe












Blair Beaton

Mariah Rust

Mariah Rust







Maeghan Bielski

Maeghan Bielski





Allyson Crowley-Duncan

Allyson Crowley-Duncan





Fiona Beaton

Foundation Board Members Gordon Peters, Timothy Thornton, Nancy Tunnicliffe and Brian McCandless with the Foundation award recipient Fiona Beaton.