SFRS helping kids to pipe up

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Fire stations throughout the country are being made available for people to donate unwanted bagpipes that could be refurbished and given to aspiring young musicians.

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The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) is giving its support to a unique campaign getting old and unwanted bagpipes restored and into the hands of youngsters who want to learn but can’t afford an instrument.

The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drum Trust wants to collect as many bagpipes as possible to support its work in offering free piping lessons to aspiring young musicians.

With a strong history of fire service pipe bands continuing under SFRS, the service agreed to allow fire stations around Scotland to become drop-off points for people to donate bagpipes.

Chief Officer Alasdair Hay of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said: “This is a great initiative by the Scottish Schools Pipe and Drums Trust and we’re delighted to help.

“Our service is very much part of every community and making 66 fire stations available for people to donate bagpipes will hopefully see old and unused instruments reach youngsters who are desperate to get the chance to learn how to play.

“I’m sure there are people throughout the country who have an old set of bagpipes sitting in a loft or cupboard. Passing them on to the Trust will give an opportunity to young people who may otherwise miss out, so it’s something we’re glad to be part of.”

The Bagpipe Amnesty: Old Pipes for New Learners appeal will not only allow the young pipers to develop their musical talent, continuing Scotland’s proud piping excellence, but it will also help to change young lives.
Before being distributed to schools and communities across Scotland all donated pipes will be refurbished to their original condition, thanks to agreement between The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drum Trust and Wallace Bagpipes.

Alex Duncan, the chief executive of The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drum Trust, said: “The bagpipe is Scotland’s national instrument and pipe bands are a source of pride and focus for pupils, schools and communities.

“Yet there are few opportunities to learn the pipes or drums in state schools compared with other instruments.

“If this worrying trend continues we have a fear that we won’t have any future pipers and drummers - and hearing the roar of pipes and drums on Hogmanay or the likes of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo could become a thing of the past.

“We are helping more than 1,000 children across the country to get free lessons from world class tutors. 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 the interest we have generated in piping – we need more pipes to take these young musicians to the next level.”

He added: “The benefits go beyond just teaching a musical instrument. We know of children and young people whose lives have been changed because of piping.

“It builds self-confidence and instils a sense of pride – as well as allowing children to grow friendships that can last a lifetime.”

Unwanted pipes can be given a new lease of life by being handed into one of 66 fire stations across Scotland between 8am and 8pm from 1st to 14th February. Click here to find out which fire stations are participating.

More information is available from The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drum Trust by calling 0808 281 9405 or visiting

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IMAGES: Young musicians from local schools visited Govan Community Fire Station in Glasgow's Southside to help launch the Bagpipe Amnesty.