Over the years Tammy rescued and amassed a substantial number of endangered tunes, many of them were recorded on tape and the majority of the material gathered is now archived for the future.
Tammy also made many recordings of old and interesting Shetland stories, covering a variety of subjects. Most of them are in the spoken dialect of the narrators area, making it even more important to future generations.
He was one of the founder members and was leader of the 40 Fiddlers. This was a group of more than 40 fiddlers from all over the islands, who came together to play at the Hamefarin of 1960 and to entertain Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on one of her visits to Shetland. His belief in the need to keep the music of the Shetland Islands alive was so strong that, he is credited with persuading the then Zetland County Council's Education department to provide free fiddle tuition in schools throughout the islands. He also taught many children to play the fiddle including Tammy's Perrie Angels and Young Heritage, as well as Aly Bain and Catriona MacDonald who are both now internationally known Shetland fiddlers.
In recognition of teaching traditional fiddle Tammy was awarded an MBE in 1977 and then received an honorary doctorate from Stirling University in 1981 where he did a series of 'Heritage of Scotland' summer schools. Tammy was a prolific composer and over the years, he wrote about 500 tunes, many of which have been published.
In 2004 HEARD started a project to mark his achievments, and of the vital work he did for Shetland Music.
Born at Moorfield in Eshaness, in 1910, the eldest of a family of six, Tom or Tammy as he was known locally was always interested in music. His grandfather taught him to play and as a young man he performed with his fiddle at concerts and dances held around this area, before moving to Lerwick where he continued to play in various bands.
In the Second World War, Tammy served with the RAF in India and during his time there, he took a keen interest in the music of that country. When he returned to Shetland at the end of the war, he was employed as an insurance agent and it was while travelling around Shetland selling insurance that he started to source and record traditional Shetland music, realising the old tunes were not being handed down and that the musical heritage of his native islands could be lost forever.