Police Charged With Schools Pipe Band Challenge

by Heather Peebles

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

Kids from Govan are Piping up

3 mar piping feature xPolice officers with the world’s most successful competition pipe band are leading a pioneering project to help children in part of Glasgow take up bag piping and drumming.

Greater Glasgow Police Scotland Pipe Band – formerly Strathclyde Police Pipe Band – has won 20 World Pipe Band Championship titles and is now sharing its expertise with 60 youngsters in Govan.

Originally formed as the Burgh of Govan Police Pipe Band in 1883, former officers are now coaching pupils who will compete for the first time at the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships.

Funded by the Govan Weaver’s Society, four primary schools are involved – Riverside, St Constantine’s, Pirrie Park and St Saviour’s. Each gets an hour of tuition a week. Meanwhile, aspiring pipers and drummers at Govan High School are receiving instruction one day a week.

Iain MacPherson, Glasgow Police Pipe Band Sergeant, said: “It’s been a real privilege to head back to Govan to open the eyes of youngsters to the world of piping. Some of them were completely unaware of the Greater Glasgow Police Scotland’s Pipe Band origins, so it was a pleasure to let them know the area is steeped in such rich piping culture.

“It’s definitely helped inspire them into picking up the bagpipes and we have been inundated with requests for tuition. Their dedication is really shining through and instead of going home to play on their Xboxes, students are now staying at school after hours to perfect their technique.

“Although we are still in the very early stages, we’ve set our sights on a debut public performance at the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships this year. It’s going to be a busy few weeks as band rehearsals get underway but we are very much looking forward to the challenge.”

Restoring Civic Pride

Tom McInally, Deacon of The Govan Weavers Society, said: “Having been involved in the programme of regeneration in Govan, we were keen to restore some civic pride and community spirit into the area and to build on important elements of the community’s history. As one of the most deprived areas in Scotland, Govan suffers from a number of social and economic issues and it is our central objective to ameliorate this.

“We looked at a number of possibilities for ideas but thought the piping project was not only fitting with the history of pipe bands in the area but also due to the great number of benefits it brings.

“It provides young people with a tremendous sense of pride, instills a valuable work ethic and also helps alleviates symptoms of asthma and bronchitis which are particularly prevalent in Govan, while rekindling the local community’s piping connection with its world class local band.”

Govan High School Head Teacher Iain White says the thriving pipe band interest at the school has boosted the daily lives of pupils. He added: “I am delighted to see the passion for the pipe band grow. It’s a fantastic hobby for the students and gives them a great focus.

“Working with the four primary schools in the area has been a real catalyst in the regeneration of Govan as it has brought young people from all walks of life together.

“The band gives the players a true sense of purpose which is an extremely important part of school life and additionally encourages them to fulfill their capabilities. It is also great to see some healthy competition between schools as it puts a certain edge onto rehearsals and gives a boost to the students to try their best at all times.

“We are very much looking forward to taking part in the Scottish Schools Championships and we hope that it will further heighten the aspirations of our students.”

Every School Needs A Pipe Band

Organisers of the competition have the motto Every school needs a pipe band. They work to promote piping and drumming, particularly in state schools. Similar initiatives in other parts of Scotland have delivered benefits such as better exam performance.

David Johnston, from East Lothian, is Chairman of the committee behind the competition, and added: “Independent schools have a thriving tradition of producing excellent pipe bands but it is time that students from all backgrounds are exposed to the piping tradition.

“It’s an exciting time for the students of Govan and we look forward to welcoming them at this year’s championships. The ethos behind the competition is that it is an inclusive event designed to cater to all levels, even beginners.

“In the past, young bands have performed and been truly inspired by seeing their peers play to such high standards and we sincerely hope that this will be the case for the Govan Pipe Band and that it will prove to be their first appearance of many at the Scottish Schools Championships.”

The Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships is to be held at Broughton High School, Edinburgh, on Sunday 9 March 2014. For more details, please visit: www.scottishschoolspipebandchampionships.com.

Private: Heather Peebles

Based as a PR in Edinburgh, Heather Peebles is a highly-valued member of the team at Holyrood Partnership. Her work with the Scottish public relations consultancy sees her advising clients in healthcare, construction, renewables and logistics. As well as delivering numerous successful PR campaigns, she is also experienced in crisis PR and reputation management.

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