The pipers are hard at work getting ready for Basel

 

The Jeppe Pipe Band is hard at work practicing and fund-raising ahead of their trip to Switzerland in July to perform at the Basel Tattoo.

This will be Jeppe’s second time at the event. They were there two years ago – only the second school band ever to appear – and they made such a good impression that they have been invited back again.

Mr Pitman, the master in charge, explains that they accepted the invitation in June last year, and were faced with the task of raising close to half a million Rand to make it happen. “We get no direct funding from the school, and we want the parents to pay as little as possible, so the band members have been working very hard since then. We are pretty sure we are going to get there,” he said.

There has been a raffle, which closes at the end of February (details below), but the main fund-raising activities have involved performances by the band.

“We actively look for opportunities and have been playing at corporate events, weddings, shopping centres, markets, store openings etc, every chance we get,” Mr Pitman explained. “Every month-end we go busking: literally playing outside restaurants and passing the hat around.”

Luckily, pipe music is incredibly popular at the moment, so there has been no shortage of opportunities. It’s been hard on the boys, who have to practice, and do their school work as well, Mr Pitman said, but there are valuable lessons to be learnt, about commitment and taking responsibility. “These boys know they can’t expect handouts. If they want to go to Basel, they have to make it happen for themselves.”

Based on what happened two years ago, it’s going to be the trip of a lifetime. 32 boys and a number of staff members will be going and for most of the boys it will be their first time out of the country.

“In Basel we are very well looked-after,” Mr Pitman explained. “The first few days are given over to intense rehearsals, but once the performances begin, we are only busy at night, so we will undertake all sorts of activities to keep the boys constructively busy.”

There will be 16 shows at the Tattoo, each in front of 10 000 spectators, and a street parade that attracts over 200 000. Added to that are promotional performances and other official duties.

There are acts from 12 countries and pipe bands are just one section. Everyone agrees, however, that the massed pipe band display is one of the highlights of the event.

The Basel Tattoo has put Jeppe’s name on the international map. Good luck to everyone involved, and thanks for your dedication and effort.

The prize in the raffle is an overseas holiday valued at R35 000. Anyone interested in raffle tickets, or in contributing to this worthy cause, can contact Mr Pitman at dpitman@jeppeboys.co.za