A FLEDGLING band is hoping to increase its drum roll, not to mention the pipes.
The Northumberland Scottish Pipes and Drums group was formed 12 months ago, bringing together all ages and abilities to play traditional music.
The band, which rehearses at St Mary’s Church in Stannington every week, has already performed at national competitions and boasts about 15 regular members, but it is eager to attract even more people to its ranks.
Sheila Sutherland, who helps to organise the group, said: “You would be surprised at the amount of interest there still is in bands like this. There are about five or six bands in the North-East area alone. The others are all well-established and some have been running for hundreds of years.
“We are new on the scene, but we have taken part in competitions in the summer, mostly in Scotland though there are quite a few in England as well. There are even opportunities in the future for trips abroad once we get a bit more sorted.
“We have got about eight or nine regular pipers, but there are another few people in the band who can’t come on a regular basis because of other commitments. We have six regular drummers, but again there are other people who can’t always turn out.
“We have one drummer who is the Army and he has been posted to Edinburgh for six months so obviously he can’t come for a while. Real life gets in the way sometimes, but we are happy to accept that.”
The group is open to all ages, with the youngest member at present aged 14 and the eldest in his 50s. People can join whether they can play an instrument or not as Pipe Major Andy Grant and the other members can help them to learn.
Mrs Sutherland, who doesn’t play herself, said: “We have no age restrictions or anything like that, we would welcome anybody.
“It is particularly good when we get younger members because it gives them a great interest, it gives them social skills and also musical skills. It is a really fantastic thing for any youngster, but for elderly people as well. Everybody gets on. The younger members mix in with the older ones with no problem. It is a really good social group.”
The band is keen to play a part in the community and has already taken part in fund-raising events for Help for Heroes, Stannington Village Show and the Remembrance Day commemorations in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.
It is currently planning a fund-raiser for the Great North Air Ambulance and will attend Remembrance Day again, but it is also available for private bookings, such as weddings.
The group is seeking sponsorship or fund-raising opportunities to put money into its own coffers as it needs to kit members out in full uniforms and replace old equipment.
Mrs Sutherland said: “The kilts are on order and will come soon, but we also need jackets, shoes, shirts, hats and badges.
“We got a really good deal on the kilts, but it still cost us £3,000 just for our regular members.
“We also need a new drum. We have got one, but it was second-hand. We were really grateful for it, but it is not the best standard and eventually we will have to replace it.”
The band rehearses every Monday, from 7.30pm.
For more information contact Sheila Sutherland on 07983 330440, or email suth firstname.lastname@example.org
There is also a Facebook page under Northumberland Scottish Pipes and Drums.