Committed pipers from remote island communities are preparing for a gruelling two-day journey to take part in a flagship competition.
Youngsters from the Western Isles will be joining bands from schools across Scotland for the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships event in Livingston next weekend.
Organiser Patrick Gascoigne paid tribute to the determination of the young island players not to miss out.
He said: ‘The commitment these pupils show to their bands is inspirational. For some of the more remote players taking part in our competition means two nights away from home, a ferry journey and a long haul on buses and cars.
‘When you consider some of them will be playing in front of the judges for only a few minutes it really is most impressive.’
A record 123 schools are taking part in thechampionships at Inveralmond Community High School in Livingston on Sunday March 10.
Championships Convener David Johnston said: ‘For some schools it’s a quick trip along the M8, for the more far flung communities taking part in our event means not only a long journey but weeks of fundraising to hire buses and pay for accommodation.
‘We are able to give travel grants to schools coming from far away but sadly not enough to cover their entire expenditure.’
The SSPBC was set up six years ago to encourage schools to form pipe bands and help teach young people musical skills and the benefits of teamwork and discipline.
David said: ‘The event is part of the activities of the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust. Since our launch in 2014 we have supported in-school lessons for about 5,000 young people in 20 local authority areas across Scotland.
‘Some of the bands taking part next weekend will be from schools with no history of piping and drumming but have been formed as a result of our work.’
He said that 38 per cent of secondary pupils attend schools in regions where there is no piping and drumming as part of the musical curriculum
He added: ‘We feel that this competition plays a continued key role in ensuring that interest around our musical heritage continues to grow.
‘The Championships is growing in popularity with associated increases in costs, so we are very grateful to the sponsors and donors who are supporting the event this year. We thank The William Grant Foundation, McInroy and Wood, McCallum Bagpipes, Wallace Bagpipes, Baillie Gifford, Skyscanner and Spirit of Scotland.
‘Sadly the vast majority of Scotland’s pupils still don’t have the chance to learn our national instruments at school. Instrumental services are under enormous budgetary pressures so we are very pleased to be able to help councils and schools to provide tuition. Being part of a pipe band encourages pupils to develop valuable skills such as teamwork, resilience and self-confidence; these skills are transferable and help young people in all areas of learning and life.’
The Trust aims to advance education, the arts, heritage, culture and community development by encouraging young people in Scotland to take up and play the chanter, pipes and drums; and by supporting the development of school pipe bands.
In doing so, the Trust supports young people to broaden their education, in particular their musical and social skills.
The Trust provides cash grants to support tuition, and runs a free national Bagpipe lending scheme.