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Strathallan School pipers are Barbados bound

Strathallan pupils to be part of Caribbean Celtic festival

Pupils from the piping class at Strathallan School are getting ready to head out to the Caribbean to play the bagpipes and are set to represent Scotland at this year’s Barbados Celtic Festival.

This comes after the school’s piping class went out to the Caribbean island last year, and joined the Barbados Big Band and featured in a television show about the festival.

They also played at the SOL Motor Rally the same weekend.

Taking part alongside the Barbados Defence Force marching band and army cadets, the pupils will be led by tutor Pipe Major Craig Muirhead. He said:

“It was an exhilarating experience.

“Not only playing in the tropical heat, but at the motor rally, we were hotly pursued by the motor rally press around the circuit we played.

“The whole trip was a magnificent experience for the pupils, who got to play in front of over 500 pupils at pop star Rihanna’s old school in Barbados.

“It was an opportunity for West Indian children to learn about the bagpipes and Scottish traditions.

“The group also swam with the native sea turtles in the Caribbean Sea, and explored some of the island.”

Mark Lauder, head teacher at Strathallan School, says those set to go on the trip are looking forward to it. He said:

“This trip represents a fantastic opportunity for our younger pipers to step up and take a lead on an international stage.

“This can be life changing for them.

“They work hard on this trip, giving performances and classes off stage in schools as well as on stage for the public. They also grow in stature and confidence and learn to the ambassadors not only for this school, but for Scotland too.

“I am delighted that we are involved – I am just sorry I cannot go too!”

At last year’s festival, Strathallan pupils met and chatted to Hamish Stuart, one of the original members of the Average White Band, who made it to number one in the American pop charts in the 1970s.

This year the festival will include a 44-strong male voice choir Gwalia Singers from Swansea in Wales, and folk music from Scotland’s Riddell Fiddles with Sheila Sapkota.

Carol Anderson, the festival’s director who comes from Edinburgh, said:

“We have developed a unique fusion of music from both sides of the Atlantic in this growing festival through our folk and traditional music.

“Pipers and drummers taking part in a massed bands parade play recognised Scottish tunes, and also learn some Bajan music. It’s a true fusion of cultures.

“There is a strong Scottish history in Barbados dating back to when Scots were purged from our country and sent to be indentured servants in the sugar industry in the 1700s.”