Sir Colin described his fellow pipesmokers, who number 560,000 in the UK, as "a very decent lot". He said he was "extremely happy to be the 1996 recipient of this charming honour". Previous title-holders have included Sir Harold Wilson, Tony Benn and Barry Norman. The only other musician to have been honoured by the Pipesmokers Council is the flautist James Galway.
The secretary of the council, Michael Butler, said: "We have been trying for a number of years to book Sir Colin for this award. Apart from his obvious qualities, this is the first time we have selected a Pipesmoker of the Year who knits superb sweaters and has a pet iguana."
Sir Colin, who is at present the principal conductor of the LSO, added: "It's a very relaxing custom, some of my best friends are pipesmokers."
Photograph: Edward SykesReuse content