THE pipes are calling for the Morpeth community to get behind its local band.
Morpeth Pipe Band has been flying the flag for the town for almost 100 years with a string of successes at competitions near and far.
The organisation is also heavily involved in Morpeth events, leading celebrations, civic activities and commemorations, and was awarded the Freedom of the Borough in 2009 as a sign of appreciation.
But as members recently discovered, many local residents are still unaware of its work.
And now the group is planning a publicity offensive, including putting its numerous trophies on display, to try to drum up more support.
Member Lorna Rawlings said: “We have been organising collections at Sanderson Arcade for the band and we were surprised at the number of people who said they didn’t know anything about the band, or even that Morpeth has a pipe band.
“We want to raise the profile of the pipe band to address that.
“We have somebody on the case of trying to put the pipe band trophies on display. There is a Morpeth Bagpipe Museum, but there is nothing really about Morpeth Pipe Band in there so that would be a good place to start.”
The Morpeth band is well known and respected on both the national and international stage, and its members hail from north of Glasgow to Scunthorpe, with ages ranging from 13 to 65.
Its younger members have already enjoyed some success this year.
Thirteen-year-old twins Helen and Matthew Nicholson, and Rhys and Ali Grant, aged 15 and 17 respectively, took three first places, one second and two third spots between them, at a recent pipe band contest in Houghton-le-Spring.
They are hoping to bring home even more trophies in the coming few months as the competition season really gets under way.
Key events in the calendar are the British Championships in Annan later this month, the European Championships in Belfast in July and the World Championships in Glasgow in August.
However, in order to attend the competitions, the band needs funds and it is seeking financial support through sponsorship, donations and street collections.
“It is the start of the competitions now and we will be competing, but all of these things cost a lot of money so we are always looking for support,” said Miss Rawlings.
“We have had a good response to our fund-=raising so far and we have been surprised by the generosity of people, especially when they didn’t know about the band.
“At one of our collections there was a little girl who was part of an Irish dancing group and she just started dancing. It was really lovely.”
The pipe band recently took part in Ponteland Civic Parade and will be warming up the crowds for the Olympic Torch Relay in Morpeth on Friday, June 15, with another appearance lined-up at Durham Miners’ Gala next month.
But despite its busy schedule there is still room to squeeze in a few more events, if people wish to book the band.
The next street collection will take place at Sanderson Arcade on Saturday, from noon to 2pm.
Anyone wishing to book, sponsor or donate to the band should contact Miss Rawlings on 07719 306412.