Ross OC Jennings, piper and traveller

THE one thing I’ve always really enjoyed is travel. I buried it deep down when I was studying at university as I didn’t think it was a realistic thing to do as a career. But as social media began to grow, I thought, 'You know what, maybe I can do it.'

I ended up meeting a bunch of inspiring travellers in London. It kicked off the idea. I’m not quite as hardcore as these people. I’m not going to hike up a mountain, but I do play the bagpipes! I thought that might be a unique selling point, the conspicuousness of the kilt and the bagpipes. I handed in my notice at work in London and I went for it. My goal is to bagpipe in every country in the world.

The first place I went to was Tunisia. As soon as I got on the plane, I met such interesting characters. I got invited to play at a Tunisian football club in the south. The whole experience confirmed why I set out to do it. From then on I relentlessly contacted people to help with social media or get sponsorship.

My mother’s side of the family is Scottish, my dad is Irish, I grew up in China and I sound very English because I was at boarding school in England. I started piping when I was 14 years old, I was given the option to learn the bagpipes at school and I was the only one in the whole year who wanted to learn them. I was so enamoured by them because they were so loud and they rocked me. Learning the bagpipes was also a way of grasping onto a sense of identity. I really enjoy it and I do feel more Scottish.

I wear Baird tartan, my mother’s name. It’s the same kilt, the same socks in every country, which is kind of gross. It does get washed, I promise.

I continuously use social media to connect with people or work with brands, I’ve got to pay for my travels somehow. Half of what I do is content creation and the other half is motivational talks at institutions, usually international schools. The hook is the world record and I always pitch that as what I’m doing. I’ll go in and just present an alternative option to life.

I’ve had some great experiences. I was the official piper to the goats in Tanzania. I’ve also had interactions with locals who have opened up to me in a really lovely way. I always call bagpiping a catalyst for awesome cultural interactions. Maybe because I’m sharing a bit of my culture, people feel more likely to open up to me.

In Scotland I’m more likely to bump into other pipers and people will ask me to play certain tunes, it’s a more in-depth interaction. When you’re abroad it’s almost totally bizarre, because it’s such a juxtaposition of cultures. Tartan and kilt and bagpipes in the desert. Some people are just so flabbergasted.

I want to shed light on areas that need a bit more tourism, like Papua New Guinea or Sierra Leone, those countries are incredible. It takes so long to change people’s mindsets about certain areas, even when they’re perfectly safe.

I’d really like to work in education back in the UK. That’s the most enjoyable part of my journey, meeting people and being able to share my journey and inspire others to not just pick up the bagpipes but to just think about things differently. You can make a living out of doing something you love.

Francesca Street