I would like to thank you dearly for helping me fund the once in a lifetime trip to Barbados with the Strathallan school pipe band. This trip has not only been absolutely amazing, but my piping has only gotten better.
We started off the week at 3.00am on Tuesday the 16th of May and went to the airport in Edinburgh where we took the plane to Heathrow and then got on the Conexion plane to Barbados. About one hour after we landed, we went straight to a Pipe band rehearsal for a gig called the odyssey concert at St Patrick’s cathedral in Bridgetown that we had to do during the week. This helped me learn to play my pipes better even after a mega voyage which will be useful in the future when I go around the world with my pipes.
Fast forward to Wednesday evening, we performed at Harbour lights dinner show where I played a solo Highland cathedral in front of a Bagian audience. This helped me grow my confidence whilst performing in front of quite a few people. The following day: Thursday, we had piping workshops in the morning with Conor Sinclair and Roddy MacLeod MBE, this was the day where I learnt the most. We had one hour with Conor, 27 years old (winner of the March, Strathspey and Reel at the Glenfiddich championship). This is one of the most prestigious solo competitions in the world, where you must win several other competitions to compete, telling us that you must be an elite level player to even play in the competition, never mind win it! And one hour with Roddy, a 5-time winner of the Glenfiddich championship and retired director of the national piping Centre in Glasgow (Scotland). Then later on they both played a few tunes on their bagpipes from which I learnt a lot about their techniques and what it takes to be the best. That evening we had a rehearsal for the street parade with the military brass band which was an experience in itself.
On Friday we boarded a catamaran with all the boys and teachers and set sail for a fantastic day out, hopping in and out seeing shipwrecks and swimming with the turtles. Later on, that day the boys were asked to hoist up the sail whilst I played a solo Flower of Scotland in the wind nearly falling over a couple of times, but the experience was once in a lifetime bearing in mind Roddy MacLeod, Connor Sinclair, Kyle Howie (one of my piping teachers with some of the fastest if not the fastest piping fingers on the planet), Craig Muirhead (also one of my piping teachers a very experienced piper) and josh Fraser (yet another piping teacher and three time world champion with Johnstone pipe band), all watching me play!
This again helped me to play with a lot of pressure on me and in an unexpected environment. On that same evening we performed at the Odyssey concert at St Patrick’s cathedral that we had rehearsed for on the Tuesday evening. On Saturday we performed in the massed pipe band parade with another pipe band from Sweden and one from England as well as the Bagian brass band. This gave me a taste of what it was like to march in the heat for a while whilst playing my pipes and keep marching correctly as I was in the front rank with one of my pipe band pals Harry Turner and of course Roddy MacLeod leading the march passed/parade.
Later that day we performed all around a pub named Blakey’s. Sunday (the last full day) we played as a pipe band by the coast where the surfing championships are normally held. I played a solo Gordon Duncan tune with the coast and the rough Atlantic Ocean in the background to end the trip and bring part of him to Barbados.
I again would like to thank you for all your help and support to get me onto this tour/trip with the Strathallan Pipe band and help me to broaden my perspectives on the limitless opportunities that piping will bring me in the near future.