Youngsters on the Isle of Harris are marching to musical success thanks to a donation of a full set of pipe band drums from the North East’s Stonehaven Pipe Band.

Stonehaven Pipe Band recently took the difficult decision to disband, but their drums won’t stay silent for long following the generous donation to Sir E Scott School on the Isle of Harris. 

Andy Meehan of the Stonehaven Pipe Band said: “The band had a long tradition of teaching in the local area and weathered most of the storms associated with fluctuating pipe band membership. Sadly, due to a lack of engagements and working commitments from members, the numbers were already low, but when the pandemic hit this knocked the band to the point where it was impossible to continue. The decision to fold was a particularly difficult one to make, with the band having been around for many years, and some members having several family generations associated with the band. Remaining members agreed that donating the instruments to Sir E Scott School, to provide opportunities for youngsters to develop and to continue our tradition, was the best outcome in the circumstances, and which we are sure all past members would support.”

Sir E Scott pupils with the donated drums

Andy adds that the band was primarily there for entertaining the public and furthering tradition, but also competed at various levels having spent a few years in Grade 1 in its heyday.

“All bands go through cycles, and we are glad that this final cycle will result in supporting more young people to take up the pipes and drums,” he said.

Harris has a strong piping scene, with pipes being taught both in school and in the community. Drumming tuition has recently arrived on the island thanks to a new tutor post created in partnership between the Lewis and Harris Pipe Band, the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust, and the Western Isles Council. 

Emma Holmes, Music Teacher at Sir E Scott School said: “Pipe band drumming tuition has really taken off at SES, with almost half of S1 and S2 pupils now involved. We realised we would need to source drums as a matter of urgency and contacted the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust to enquire about their funding. We were amazed when they replied with Stonehaven Pipe Band’s generous offer. We are so grateful to Stonehaven Pipe Band and want them to know that their drums have gone to a good home, and they will be ringing out across the fields again very soon.”

Alexandra Duncan, director of SSPDT said “We were saddened to learn about Stonehaven Pipe Band, but we were pleased to be able to link the band with Sir E Scott School, who had reached out to us for funding for drums, following the high uptake of pupils keen to learn pipe band drumming.  Our Trust lends pipes to Lewis and Harris, and we co-fund the new drumming tutor post.  We have also been delighted to help establish piping and drumming tuition in schools in Aberdeenshire. The Trust would welcome partnerships with other Councils and/or directly with schools to boost tuition to meet demand.”

Stonehaven Pipe Band have also been generous with their pipes, donating five sets to the SSPDT’s national Bagpipe Lending Scheme, whereby pipes are loaned to young people, free of charge, to give them time to get to grips with the pipes and time to raise funds to buy their own set.

Funding and bagpipe loan enquiries can be made via SSPDT’s website: www.sspdt.org.uk