Sarah Hudson

January 2020
I recently bought my third violin from Martin Swan – yes, very indulgent of me, but what better way to invest one’s money and derive great satisfaction and pleasure at the same time! I was seeking a more modestly priced instrument partly to use myself but also to lend to pupils.
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Tam Mott, Welsh National Opera

March 2019
I bought a fantastic playing EA Ouchard from Martin Swan in 2017. Martin always seems to have a great selection of bows in the shop at various price brackets, and his personal customer service is excellent. I have always felt that Martin’s advice had my best interests at heart, and not at all that he was just trying to sell me something – a rare quality! The bow itself is a treat to play and I would highly recommend the shop and Martin and the service of the shop to anybody.
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Zia Roberts

March 2019
This my second violin purchase from Martin and yet again he has paired me up with a violin and bow that are a joy to play and are just what I envisaged buying. My first violin and bow from Martin helped me rediscover the joy of violin playing after a long break. Almost five years later I contacted Martin again, as I was now looking for a violin with more consistency of tone in the upper registers of the strings.
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Sarah Hudson

July 2018
I have just bought my second violin from Martin (not that I have any intention of parting with the beautiful Geissenhof, also from him) and from start to finish it has been an enriching, informative and friendly experience. Martin has great integrity and a wealth of knowledge, yet maintains an unpretentious attitude. He has valued and respected my views and been generous with his time in exchanging ideas about the four instruments I tried. There has been no sense of pressure or persuasion to buy the more expensive option – far from it, in fact.
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Michel El Murr

Feb 2018
No words can reflect my appreciation to Martin Swan after getting two amazing violin bows and a Italian violin. Martin’s long patience, his rich knowledge and understanding of the musician helps a lot.

My experience wasn’t just with a very smart and knowledgeable violin dealer but with a person who is helping the musician. He looks to make the musician content and satisfied with his instruments.
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Tuck-Kay Loke

January 2018
I was nearly at the point of giving up violin playing when someone suggested that I consider a better instrument to do justice to the hours of practice as a young player. Not being a professional musician, I was at a loss to know where to start. How do you find an adequately priced but good quality violin from the many dealers out there?
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Tom McNeill

January 2018
I would like to thank you for the experience I had when we visited you last month. I am still getting acquainted with the violin and my teacher loves it. It will be with me for as long as I am around.
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John Coulthard and his daughter Skye

November 2017
Having bought a violin for myself (MSV 131), I decided to see whether it was possible to get a quality violin made for my daughter, who’d played for about a year at the time. I also liked Martin’s trade-in offer, which means I can effectively buy her a full-size instrument in instalments with access to great part-size violins along the way!
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John Coulthard

November 2017
I played the violin a lot as a child, getting to grade 8 and playing in various amateur orchestras / folk groups, but only really started playing regularly again a few years ago.

I wanted a much better violin than the one I grew up with, but was not sure where to start. In particular, I’d had go on a friend’s violin (a professional, with a c.£250,000 Italian violin), and struggled to make a good sound on it, so knew it was not just about price!
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Dr. Michael Krauß

November 2017
I could easily fill pages writing about the unbelievable mixture of exceptional tonal qualities, very good condition and exceptional prices of the violins I purchased from Martin, but for this review I want to focus on why I repetitively put trust in Martin’s business and why I consider it the future of fine violin dealing. When I started to look into procuring higher class violins, I saw four possibilities and pursued them all:
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Shelagh Winship

August 2017
I am delighted and entranced with my violin, and am very grateful to Martin for bringing us together. It has a beautiful, yet characterful tone, with notes remaining pure right up in the high register; and so responsive – a joy to play. I can hardly believe how lucky I am to own it.
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Laura Macleod, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

March 2017
I have had my violin for nearly 5 years now. It has helped me through all my exams, concerts and auditions with its resonant tone. I feel it is on a par with more expensive instruments that I have heard – I really love the sound it makes. I am now looking forward to making more music with my violin and I am very excited to be on a path to a career as a performing musician. Thank you!
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Helen Mason, Jahn Quartet

November 2016
I wanted the best cello I could get for my limited budget. I had been looking for about a year with no success & travelled many miles to try cellos that weren’t good enough. The “good enough” ones were too expensive though. Martin sent one of his new MSV cellos down to me on trial without me having to go up to Scotland to try different instruments. It has a really big sound and I’m playing more confidently
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Nathan O’Reilly, Abbotsford Youth Orchestra

November 2016
I love the violin! your description was very accurate, especially about its volume! the conductor of my orchestra told me to play quieter because he could hear me above the entire orchestra!  The tone is amazing, I can’t pick up either of our other two rental violins in the house now without being disgusted. I simply love to practice with it, as it is so great to play! Thank you for all your free advice about buying a violin online and your great professionalism, you will definitely be on the list of places for me to look for an upgrade violin!
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Jane Sinclair, BBC National Orchestra of Wales

September 2016
I bought a Tarasconi violin from you earlier this year and absolutely love it. It has inspired me to venture into the world of chamber music – a cellist friend of mine and I performed a series of concerts during June and July and will do another series with a different programme in January. A lot of my professional friends are very complimentary. Buying the violin was one of the best decisions I’ve made.
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Lewis Murray

August 2016
Hi there, just a note to say how much am enjoying playing the violin. Am still opening up new things, strangely enough, and learning how to adapt and make great sounds out of it. Been one hell of a journey!

I’m beginning to focus on the classical field, as it was always one of the ambitions here to be able to lead a quartet. It took some time for me to get the strength and balance in both arms/hands to make it respond in trad music, but blimey, it really really does respond now, and that is amazing. Loving it.
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Jeff Terflinger

May 2016
I have purchased two great playing violin bows from Martin. Not only were they as good as they were described, they surpassed my expectations. It is reassuring to find a Violin Dealer who has the knowledge, integrity and most of all a personal touch, and great customer service!
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Rosie Munro, Newcastle University

May 2016
I have had my violin from Martin Swan for about a year now and it has really enriched my playing and allowed me to grow as a fiddle player. It has a gorgeous rich tone especially on the lower strings and offers more dynamic and tonal range than my previous fiddle provided. I am currently in my final year of the BMus Folk and Traditional music course at Newcastle University and I am working towards my final recital at The Sage Gateshead. I am so happy to have this fiddle to play as I complete my degree and will take it forward with me in my future career.
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Wendy Staal

October 2015
What can I say – it’s a fantastic violin. I spent a long time playing scales in 4ths, 3rds, 8ves etc to get my ears and fingers attuned to the violin, a long time just settling it down – this violin requires perfect intonation. Then, just work, stuff I’ve got coming up that needs learning and trying to contain my excitement basically. It responds so quickly, it’s so articulate I can hear everything, it’s tonal variety is just great – it feels like a two way conversation. With no musical demands its voice is captivating but it can do all the colours…. clearly I’m smitten.
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Wendy Richardson

October 2015
I finally plucked up the courage to phone Martin after looking at his website over a month or so. I was feeling a bit of a fraud as I had only been playing the Violin for a couple of months when I decided I would like to learn on an instrument that I could make friends with and that I could grow into. I had already tried out a couple of violins that I had ordered over the internet but they were not very inspiring. I explained to Martin what I was looking for and that I wanted something ‘interesting’ that would certainly hold its value and maybe even be a bit of an investment. I was instantly reassured by Martin’s tone, he was friendly and very approachable and clearly knew A LOT about violins, he patiently answered all my questions in a very honest and straightforward way, openly sharing his fascination and experience.
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Marie Clarke

September 2015
Thankyou for all your help and patience in finding me my new fiddle. I just wanted to let you know how much i love it. I absolutely love the tone of it and i find myself practising lots more as it makes me sound loads better than i really am!!!!. I have to say i looked at your website a number of times and wasn’t entirely sure i would be able to explain to you exactly what i was looking for, but somehow you got it just right. I had been looking for a violin for a couple of years and just didn’t really fall in love with any others I had tried. Totally in love with my Pruller though.
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John Grant, Borland Ceilidh Band

April 2015
Just to let you know that I will most definitely not be bringing the fiddle back for a 14 day refund. After playing my entire life with a converted right handed fiddle, to finally not have to play against the grain is astounding.
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Arnolds Kupcs

March 2015
You really surprised us, with these two violins. The violin from Mittenwald is just great. It has such a powerful, singing and sweet A and E, while D and G gives deep, mellow strong tone with big resonance. It just a joy to play it. I have received excellent feedback from people who have heard it, especially my teacher Ilya Gringolts. He currently switched from Strad to Guarneri, but still asked me who sold it to me :) ?
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Sistema Scotland: Donation of four violins

February 2015
I felt I should email you again to say how delighted we are with your very generous gift. I look after all our instruments and must say that we are short of good full size violins and had been thinking that we would have to buy some. The fact that you contacted us at just the right moment is an added bonus for us all at Sistema Scotland.The four violins are an amazing addition to our stock and it will be a huge pleasure for some of our senior children to use these.
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Cathy R

October 2014
Many thanks, Martin, for helping us get a violin that’s just right for my daughter Isla. First of all, your explanations by email about how violins are valued helped us to work out that we were looking for a violin whose value is entirely in its sound, rather than in its antique collectability.
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Jonathan Polson

September 2014
Firstly can I extend my utmost sincere gratitude … for providing an instrument of such utter beauty. I have had chance to play the violin in various settings, from large concert hall to small chamber ensemble and always, without fail people comment as to the sound that this wonderful instrument makes. I cannot understand how an instrument that was made so recently can possess such a mature and complex tone, especially in the high registers. It simply soars and sings with such ease and such purity, it can almost be overwhelming at times.
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Yue May Ada Lam

June 2014
I would like to thank you again for recommending this violin (Kriz) to us. It was so nice of you to pick out a few violins according to our preferences and budget, explained in details, and recorded the sound of each violin as we could not try them out ourselves. Even though they all sounded great, we had our preference over one particular – Kriz, and that really helped us making the decision.
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Vanessa Turner

June 2014
I had been considering buying a small viola for quite a while and discovered Martin Swan’s website during idle internet googling. The big appeal for me was being able to try out and compare several smaller instruments – and indeed I had a few to choose from in the end.
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Luis Martinez Espinosa

May 2014
From the very first moment I contacted Martin as I was interested in the violas I saw on his website to replace mine, I could see his high involvement, knowledge and professionalism. Every conversation with him about their instruments, identifying some of mine, description of sound, its facilities and commitment to its advice has led to an atmosphere of mutual trust and a source of knowledge for me.
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Hilde Schroeven-Deceuninck

May 2014
First of all thank you for organizing such a swift delivery: it arrived just after lunch time today. Which of course kept my nerves going, so my husband has sent me immediately pictures.

Waw! 3-fold waw! It looks stunning with all the rosewood fittings on, absolutely what I had hoped for. I do enjoy very much that there is no artificial effort in making it look “old”; it is not, so why fake it?
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Mike Smyth

April 2014
Advancing years have lately made playing a larger viola uncomfortable, and as I also play the violin it eventually became clear that the size of the instrument was the problem. I looked in a number of places for a smaller instrument of reasonable quality without much success. The only one that sounded suitable within my price range was on Martin Swan’s site. I was initially dubious about buying an instrument unseen, but Martin went to great lengths over the phone to find out what I needed, he played the instrument and reported back to me, and I decided to give it a try.
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Andrew Linden

December 2013
Thank you for all your guidance and encouragement in helping me to acquire the Giuseppe Baldantoni. I started my search for a violin at Mondomusica in Cremona this September, looking for an instrument to enjoy playing in my retirement which would also be an excellent “alternative” investment.

Whilst there seem to be several dealers in the market selling top end instruments with great tone and playing qualities, I soon realised how difficult it was to match the player’s perspective with good investment potential for the long term benefit of my family. As a lawyer I am inherently cautious, but I quickly came to appreciate that a buyer of a fine Italian violin needs to be very cautious.
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Stephen Davison

December 2013
Just thought I’d send a quick email to let you know Molly’s getting on fine with her new fiddle, and we’ll definitely be keeping it. Thanks for your help in choosing it, I think it’ll do Molly for at least the next few years. If she does ever think she’d like to upgrade we’ll definitely come back to you.
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Brian Mills

August 2013
I am delighted with my recent purchase. I looked at several sites and chose yours because you gave a concise appraisal of the instruments playing characteristics which in my case were spot on, as an amateur buying without hearing or playing gave me a good idea of what I was getting within my budget. All I have to do now is practise to do the violin justice.
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Deborah Harris

April 2013
I just thought you might like to know that I have had many compliments about the tone of the Cone violin from musicians, non-musicians, students and parents alike when playing the violin in a variety of settings. I am still extremely happy with it and grateful to you for suggesting it for me and the trouble you took over making it exactly right.
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John Parkin

February 2013
Knowing that I would soon need a better violin for my young daughter, I had put Martin Swan on my shortlist of violin dealers because the ethos conveyed by his web site is so refreshingly unstuffy and straightforward. He tells you his credentials; he’s willing to publish his prices; and he’ll stick his neck out and say how he thinks each instrument plays. To my surprise, I don’t think I came across another dealer that did all three of these things upfront.
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Jennifer Williams

2013
I could not be more proud of this instrument – those close to me will testify that I am eager to extol its virtues to any and all who will listen! I even asked my violin instructor to play it so I could gain a greater understanding of its range and potential in more experienced hands than my own. (So beautifully crisp and clear!) I am pleased to say that my initial admiration of my violin has only deepened with knowing it better. It is a pleasure to play, inspires and challenges me, and I’m eager to grow with it and into it as I progress. My confidence has improved already. :) It’s a dynamic instrument that is not only absolutely beautiful to look at but possesses great presence and personality.
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Stuart Alderton

2013
Just wanted to to tell you how delighted I am with the bow. Your description on the website I couldn’t agree more with. I’ve had other bows where they have either been bouncy or produced a lovely full tone, but the only one that ever did both was the violin bow I had on loan for three years some time ago… until now. I’m really quite staggered that this man is turning out bows of this standard for pennies (as you say). The other bow I was using was a Gerhard Penzel “Exquisite” which was more than double the cost of the Carlesso bow … even though its good, it just isn’t in the same league. The Carlesso is so easy to control and the workmanship so precise. I think that these Brazilian bow makers are really lucky Martin because they must have access to the best sources of wood that perhaps European makers don’t.
Stuart Alderton

Jeanne Leech

2013
Hi Martin, Just a quick note to let you know the Carlesso bow arrived safely, in perfect condition, and in record time…thanks! I can also tell you that I won’t need 14 days to decide whether or not to keep it, it took me all of 30 seconds to ascertain that I would not be sending it back to you! Your description of it was extremely accurate, spot on, and it is exactly what I was looking and hoping for. I was a little worried about buying a bow sight unseen and without trying it out in person beforehand, but you have gained my trust and I will definitely be a repeat customer! Thank you!
Jeanne Leech, USA

Brian R Hill

2013
Dear Martin, A quick note, just to say that the Alessandro Carlesso violin bow has lived up to all your superlatives and beyond. It is an absolute delight to use.
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Lorna Carter

November 2012
We bought this lovely cello for our son Adam when he was grade 5; he has recently achieved 140 in his grade 8. Many people have commented on its beautiful rich tone on all strings. We are very pleased. Thank you!
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Alastair Macfarlane

September 2012
The viola I bought some months ago from Martin – instrument no. 54 – is a beautiful instrument to look at and a great pleasure to play. I have owned five or six violas and would say unhesitatingly that, of all of these, this is the best value for money and looks of all of them and performs better than many much more expensive violas I have seen and tried in shops up and down the country.
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Julian Olver

August 2012
Rosie, Vicky her violin teacher, Hayley and I reached a unanimous decision, and it’s in favour of the Apollo. Your selection has ticked all the boxes. Rosie loves the sound she’s making and so do we. It was her teacher’s first choice. When she listened to, and played the violins, she actually described the decision as a “no brainer” and it is ideally suited to Rosie and her progression over the next few years. So thank you very much, you’ve made everyone here very happy!
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Daniel

Aug 2012
I got some time today to get a second opinion from my orchestra friend, who put the Boulangeot through the paces of a lot of violin repertoire… We both agreed it was a very dark, complex, interesting sound, and he thought it felt very even across the strings. He was playing Sibelius, there were some notes on the lower G string which were absolutely awesome – just went straight to your heart and gave you shivers.
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Cat

2011
The entire experience of working with Martin has been a delight. He is invested in not only making superior instruments, but also making real connections with musicians – matching them with the right instrument and sharing the passion we all feel for music. He was generous with his communication and time at every stage. As the cello was being made, he asked perceptive questions about what I would most like in the instrument. Once it arrived he worked meticulously with me to give the cello the best set-up possible at my end and helped me understand what kind of settling-in process new instruments go through.
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Chris Law

2011
Having lost my viola in a burglary, I had spent an unsuccessful summer looking for a new instrument before I came across Martin’s violas. The quality of sound was in a different league to the other instruments (of the same price and more) that I had tried, and I instantly fell for the viola. It has a wonderfully edgy sound in the lower register, and beautiful lyrical higher notes. I’m so happy to be able to play such a fantastic instrument.
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Jani Lang

2011
Martin came to my rescue when I needed a new violin. He wasn’t just very helpful but gave me an unbelievable price on an amazing Hungarian violin. Being a Hungarian, it was a very funny coincidence and I have no doubt that without Martin’s help I would have never been able to own such an outstanding instrument. I can’t explain how much difference it makes to play on a violin that sounds and plays like any old Italian/French etc. top violin. Not to mention all the compliments that I receive from my audience and fellow musicians on my violin. Now I own an instrument that will stay with me for all my life …
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Tony Harrison

2011
Thank you Martin for providing such a wonderful instrument, I really love it with a passion. It is everything and more than I could have expected. I was looking for something that had qualities that were in reality far outside my price range but somehow you managed to find an instrument that far exceeded anything I had any right to expect. This instrument and I will go on a long journey together of that I am sure. Your descriptions were spot on, as impressive as the service you gave, at all times.
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Benedict Morris

2011
I came to Martin looking for a violin that would be best for me as a classical & traditional violinist at the stage I was at. Knowing this information already, Martin laid out six or seven violins which he thought might suit me best, and sure enough. I worked my way through and found a violin with a beautiful and special tone to it. After only a few seconds playing it I knew it was the one for me. I wouldn’t go anywhere else for a violin. But the best part about Martin Swan Violins is Martin himself.
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Lieu Wee Ling

2010
I got the viola from u a year ago… my daughter like it a lot… had attached a photo of her with my wife n son after a concert… she had passed her ABRSM viola grade 7 recently with distinction…
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Deirdre Morrison

2010
I couldn’t be happier with this beautiful instrument – exceptionally resonant and responsive with depth and clarity on all strings. Intonation is very true. Shines in both performance and recording situations.
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Allan Green

2010
My violin arrived safely no problems or damage. I’m afraid I don’t agree with your assessment of its tonal qualities. When you said, “I can’t pretend that these are the best-sounding instruments we’ve made,” I think what you actually meant was this is the best sounding instrument we have ever made…!
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The Tseng family

2010
I was halfway around the world from home when my family asked me about finding a violin for my sister – having less than two weeks left in Europe, I scoured the countryside for violinmakers and instrumental workshops to no avail. I almost at the point of giving up after having to deal with people who were hesitant to do business with an international student, or shops that did not have a wide variety of selection of violins for our asking price.
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Diana Mitchell

2010
…I bought my violin from you. It is still wonderful, far far better than I will ever be, everytime my violin tutor touches it her face lights up and says that’s a lovely instrument. If any one out there wants to buy a violin this is your man.
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Rona Wilkie

2009
In 2012 Oban fiddler Rona Wilkie won BBC Young Traditional Musician playing on the first ‘MSV’ violin we made. Having grown up in a musical family, Rona was introduced to traditional music as a baby, and grew up being simultaneously trained in both Highland fiddle style and classical music. She became interested in singing when she attended Gaelic Medium Primary School. Rona led fiddle group Gizzen Briggs for several years performing at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in front of the Queen and First Minister in 2004.
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