The Caledonian Piping Club started in Saltcoats, Ayrshire, at the turn of the millennium with the aim of offering people of all ages in the local community a chance to learn to play the pipes. It was founded by the current leader, Gerard McClumpha, and his friend Colin McCallum.
The club quickly became popular, attracting young and old beginners from The Three Towns of Ardrossan, Saltcoats and Stevenston, and other areas of North Ayrshire. It is a lovely part of the world to stay, as The Three Towns sit right on the west coast of Scotland and are blessed with the scenic views of the Isle of Arran and often experience the glorious west coast sunsets, but it is an area high in poverty and deprivation. Large parts of The Three Towns fall into Decile 1 and Quintile 1 on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, which are the lowest scores possible. So voluntary groups in The Three Towns rely heavily on fundraising and charity and the generosity of others.
Finances have always been a challenge for the Club, but that did not stop the enthusiasm of Gerard to give the Caledonian Piping Club members the best tuition, and the best experiences, that he possibly could. Over the last 20 years the pipers in the club have joined with local pipe bands, have travelled to Barga in Italy twice for piping holidays, played for the Queen at Balmoral, played at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, hosted fund-raising concerts with The McCalmans and Battlefield Band, and founded the very popular ‘Saltcoats competition’ in 2003 – The Festival of Juvenile Solo Piping. The initial competition was held to mark the first anniversary of the death of Club co-founder Colin, who died in 2002. The competition is still going and attracting the top young competitors from all over Scotland, and will be held this year on October 21.
Over the past five years the Caledonian Piping Club have taken their piping tuition into local primary schools and that is why they have the need to buy new sets of pipes. The youngsters have grown and improved and now need their own instrument, but the cost of a set of pipes can be prohibitive to many families. But undeterred, Gerard has started a GoFundMe page to raise as much money as possible towards the £6000 they need to buy 10 sets of pipes.
The page can be found here – https://www.gofundme.com/f/purchasing-a-set-of-bagpipes – and any money donated will be very gratefully received.