The James Dwyer Trophy was presented to the Best Grade IV Band of the Rio Rancho Highland Festival for the first time in 2001. Commissioned by the High Desert Pipes & Drums and Murray Henderson, this engraved solid silver trophy from Scotland, will be an annual tribute to the life and contributions of fellow piper James Dwyer.
The High Desert Pipes and Drums, placing first in the March Medley, and first in the Mixed Medley, were the winners of the Overall competition, and became the first recipient of the James Dwyer Trophy.
As a new piper in 1997, James showed what determination and commitment could accomplish and he joined the competition circle of the High Desert Pipes & Drums. Traveling to Scotland in 1999, James was a member of the first US band to win a Grade IV World Championship- the High Desert Pipes and Drums.
James was the first APD officer to compete with the High Desert and his influence has brought many of his fellow officers to chanter lessons. His kilted proposal of marriage, on one knee, in front of Ayrthrie Castle in Scotland, earned him the "most romantic guy in the band" label.
A martial arts expert, an accomplished athlete, an APD motor officer, a bagpiper; James faced each challenge head-on. James faced the diagnosis of cancer with dignity and determination - and set the standard for living each day to its' fullest.
In August 2001, despite intense pain, James again traveled with the High Desert to Scotland and competed with his band at the World Pipe Band Championships. On September 19, 2001, at the age of 33, James ended his valiant two-year battle against cancer.
James will remember his smile, his laugh, his love, and his caring and concern for others, his quiet determination, and his dignity. In his short life, James touched the lives of thousands of people, and he will be much missed and always remembered. If you look very carefully, when the High Desert Pipes and Drums form a circle, there is always a wee space between two of the musicians- a space for James Dwyer, always a member of the High Desert Pipes and Drums.