A novel Scottish charity campaign to find old bagpipes to give new young players a better chance in life has received global backing – with an American woman sending her treasured pipes more than 4000 miles to support the cause.
Andi Gamblin, from Kansas, heard about the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust’s Bagpipe Amnesty over the internet. After seeing a Facebook post about the campaign from the well know Scottish Piper, Donald McBride, Andi immediately arranged for her beloved Kintail pipes to be sent the 4,227 miles to the Trust’s Edinburgh HQ.
Although she has no direct Scottish roots, 44 year old Andi has been piping for the last 15 years and has since travelled across USA playing with various pipe bands, and currently plays with the Kansas City St Andrews Pipes and Drums.
She wanted to donate her bagpipes – her first set – in order to give children in Scotland the chance to share the same opportunities and pleasures of playing the pipes that she has experienced.
Andi said: “It is hard to part with my pipes because they have been through so much with me. But after my husband surprised me with a new set of pipes for our 11th wedding anniversary, it makes no sense to have them sitting around for sentimental reasons when a child, who would otherwise not have the opportunity to play, could have their life enriched.
“I first started playing the pipes in 2001 in California and I fell in love with the instrument straight away. My first set of pipes have served me well for 14 years, but it is time for them to be put to good use again.
“Piping can help change young people’s lives for the better so I think what the Bagpipe Amnesty is doing is fantastic.
“I am delighted to be able to support this campaign. I am sure many people will have old pipes lying around and they don’t know what to do with them. It’s great that they can now donate to such a fantastic cause.
“I have always wanted to travel to Scotland but haven’t yet been able to. Maybe one day soon I will be able to come over and here the students play the pipes – and maybe even my original set?”
Fourteen bagpipes and two sets of pipe band drums have been donated in total so far and the Bagpipe Amnesty has received a flood of interest and messages of support from around the world.
The Trust has been set up because the vast majority of pupils in Scottish schools do not have the chance to learn the pipes and drums in the classroom on the same basis as other instruments.
The Trust will loan donated pipes to young people who cannot afford to buy a set but who want to learn.
Unwanted pipes can be handed into one of 66 fire stations across Scotland that are supporting the Bagpipe Amnesty, as well as being handed into Wallace Bagpipes. Full details on the Fire Stations supporting the amnesty can be found on the website www.sspdt.org.uk. or by calling FreePhone 0808 281 9405.
Trust Chief Executive Alexandra Duncan said: “It is amazing that we are receiving messages of support and donations from around the world. It shows that piping is important to so many people.
“We are delighted to receive these pipes from Andi and we hope that her generous donation will encourage others from across the globe to donate.
“The SSPDT is helping more than 1000 children across the country to learn the pipes and drums in state schools. This includes youngsters from some of Scotland’s most deprived areas who would never have the chance to learn piping.
“But with such a big programme – and with more young people interested in piping – we need pipes to take these young musicians to the next level. “
The SSPDT believe there must be hundreds of sets of pipes lying unused in cupboards and attics that could be given a new lease of life.
Donations of pipes can be made from February 1-14. After February 14 you can continue to donate old pipes to Wallace Bagpipes or call 0808 281 9405 to arrange for them to be collected from your house.
The appeal is also being supported by a comprehensive social media campaign (see @fairplay4pipes; and facebook.com/fairplayforpipes, which includes a gallery of videos https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCv3TFC5AhrNXbehiJF5gVRw
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