Anthony Qhalo had no idea what bag pipes were, and he had never heard a pipe band play before he spent the night in the hostel at Jeppe as a grade seven boy five years ago as part of a Jeppe experience weekend arranged for primary school boys interested in coming to the school.
The next day was Open Day, and the pipe band gave a display. He liked what he saw and heard and made a decision then that was to shape his life at Jeppe for the next five years.
“It was all so new to me,” he said, “but I like trying new things and I decided then that this was something I wanted to try.”
In the months that followed, Cheryl Young, the principal of Kenton Primary, where Anthony was attending school, helped him to apply for Jeppe, and for a Theo Jackson scholarship. He was successful in both and at the beginning of the next year he embarked on the journey that will end in December this year when he matriculates.
In the process, he became a valued member of the school’s acclaimed and award-winning pipe band, culminating in his being awarded full colours last week.
“I had never played a musical instrument before and the pipes was a difficult place to start,” he said. “It took me a whole week before I could even make a sound.”
Now he reads music and under the tutorship of Mr Damien Pitman he has become an expert piper who has mastered the instrument.
“There have been many highlights during my time in the band,” he says. “Going overseas to the Basel Tattoo was obviously one, as well as winning the SA Championships. And getting full colours has been another one.”
Anthony said he will always be grateful to Cheryl Young who took an interest in him and helped him get into Jeppe. “She still guides me and plays a very important role in my life,” he said.
“And the people at Jeppe: in Oribi House and the Theo Jackson Scholarship Fund, have been very good to me for the past five years. I will always be thankful towards them.”