Award-winning Surrey Pipe Sgt. Jack Lee traded his kilt and sporran for a cap and gown Thursday (June 13) to receive an honorary degree from Simon Fraser University.
His brother, Pipe Maj. Terry Lee, of Coquitlam, did the same.
The pair have led the six-time world champion SFU Pipe Band to acclaim. And while they have, for many years, added to the pomp and circumstance of the university graduation ceremonies, this year they were led into the Convocation Mall in Burnaby by their fellow band members.
“Receiving an honorary degree from Simon Fraser University is a terrific honour,” says Jack Lee. “Terry and I have been deeply involved in bagpipe education at SFU for over 30 years. We have helped to spread the excellent name and reputation of SFU throughout the bagpipe world. We love what we do and never anticipated receiving such a great honour for something we enjoy so much.”
The Lees grew up piping and formed the SFU Pipe Band (SFUPB) in 1981. Eventually they began travelling to Scotland to compete at the annual World Pipe Band Championships and over the years, have claimed a top-three spot 20 times.
The brothers have also helped mold young talent through their junior band, the Robert Malcolm Memorial band, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
In addition, the Lees have their share of personal accolades, with Jack having won a string of the world’s top solo prizes and their sons making names for themselves on the world stages. Considered one of the world’s best pipers, Jack has won all of the top international awards available, twice winning the Highland Society of London Gold medal (2001 and 1981) and twice, the coveted Clasp at Inverness (2010 and 1994).
Their teaching expertise is sought globally, including annual field schools in New Zealand and throughout the eastern U.S.
“Wherever we go,” says Jack, “people recognize SFU, and thanks to the good fortune we’ve had over the years, they’ve come to equate SFU with a successful pipe band. It’s a name we wear with pride.”
Terry says the pipe band has left a legacy.
“There have now been many hundreds of kids come through our system and to see them grow as people and musicians is fantastic,” he says.