Below is a biography of Benny Hughes, excerpts of which were read aloud at the Scottish festival in Tulsa, where Benny was named the Honorary Chieftain for 2012. The biography is written by Keith Roberson, long time friend of Benny and our band’s Co-Pipe Sergeant.
“Bernard (Benny) Hughes was born April 29, 1926 on the Isle of Butte in Scotland, in a small farm cottage near the fishing port of Rothsay. He spent his formative years there, until his father, Patrick Hughes, moved the family to the eastern side of the Scottish mainland looking for a better life for his family.
After his father’s death, Benny often stayed home from school to care for his mother as her health failed. In 1943, at the age of 17, he was drafted into the British Army. After basic training in Aberdeen, he joined the 6th Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders, Infantry Unit. His unit did advanced combat training in England and was then sent to Normandy, where the Battalion landed approximately 10 days after D-day. Benny and the Gordon Highlanders joined the Allied Forces and saw combat as they marched across portions of northern France and then into Germany. Benny earned four combat medals during his time in the Gordon Highlanders, which he still proudly wears on his Scottish Pipe band uniform. He earned the 1939-1945 Defense Medal, the 1939-1945 Star, the France and Germany Star, and the End of the War Medal. He spent some time in Germany after the war in the Allied Forces peace keeping effort. After that time, the Gordon Highlanders were sent to northern Africa for desert combat training, spending two years in the treacherous area around Tripoli.
In 1947, Benny married the love of his life, Ina Taylor. One month later, he accepted his discharge from the Army. Benny held numerous jobs in Scotland over the years. In 1957 after his two sons, Benny and Tommy, were born he moved the family to Canada looking for a better life. Less than a year later, they moved to Oklahoma and made a life and home for themselves. Benny, Ina, and their sons worked hard to integrate themselves into American life, and became naturalized citizens.
Benny’s love for his homeland and culture took root in Oklahoma soil and he became the Drum Major for the Highlanders of Oklahoma City in its early years. In addition to his service with the Pipe band, he and Ina taught Scottish Country and Folk dancing for several years. Benny has appeared on several local TV News broadcasts, over the years, in interviews regarding his Scottish Heritage. He has done vocal performances of “Scotland the Brave” and other Celtic folk tunes for the viewing audiences.
In the 1970’s Benny was asked to become one of the state’s first Certified Soccer referees. He did so, and helped Soccer gain solid footing in Oklahoma. He even refereed in an exhibition game in Tulsa in which the all-time great soccer player Pele participated.
After more than 40 years with the Highlanders of Oklahoma City, Benny helped to form a new Pipe band. The Oklahoma Scottish Pipes and Drums was formed in 1998, and now has numerous competition wins, as well as other medals and trophies. There is nothing Benny enjoys more than spending time with his band “family”, and helping the band to sharpen its marching, musical performance, and competition skills.
Anyone who has ever met Benny has been impressed with his unforgettable and likeable personality and kind ways. He treats everyone with a special respect and dignity. Everywhere he goes, people are quick to recognize and greet him, even when they have not seen each other for many years.
We honor you, Benny Hughes, for your service to the Scottish community, to the State of Oklahoma, and for your dedication to the American ideals of freedom, hard work, great friendships, and solid family values.