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Tradition gets piping hot in Govan

SCHOOL pupils in one of Scotland's most deprived areas are shunning games consoles and embracing bagpipes and drums after being offered tuition from members of the world's most successful competition pipe bands.

Piping tutor Iain Watson gives Brenda Sheng a helping hand. The police piper is giving lessons to pupils from a number of schools in Govan, Glasgow.
Piping tutor Iain Watson gives Brenda Sheng a helping hand. The police piper is giving lessons to pupils from a number of schools in Govan, Glasgow.

Officers in Greater Glasgow Police Scotland Pipe Band, formerly Strathclyde Police Pipe Band, are sharing their skills with 60 youngsters in Govan, coaching a team to compete for the first time in the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships.

Funded by the Govan Weavers' Society, four primary schools - Riverside, St Constantine's, Pirrie Park and St Saviour's - receive an hour of tuition every week while aspiring musicians at Govan High School receive instruction one day a week.

Iain MacPherson, Glasgow Police Pipe Band sergeant, said: "It's been a real privilege to head back to Govan to open the eyes of youngsters to the world of piping.

"It's definitely helped inspire them into picking up the bagpipes and we have been inundated with requests for tuition. Their dedication is really shining through and instead of going home to play on their Xboxes, students are now staying at school after hours to perfect their technique.

"Although we are still in the very early stages, we've set our sights on a debut public performance at the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships next year. We are very much looking forward to the challenge."

The Greater Glasgow Police Scotland Pipe Band, originally formed as the Burgh of Govan Police Pipe Band in 1883, has won 20 World Pipe Band Championship titles. Tom McInally, deacon of The Govan Weavers' Society, said the group was keen to build on important elements of the community's history as part of a programme of regeneration. He added: "Govan suffers from a number of social and economic issues and it is our central objective to ameliorate this. We looked at a number of possibilities but thought the piping project was not only fitting with the history of pipe bands in the area but also due to the great number of benefits it brings."

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