This summer was the start of the annual ScotlandShop Highland Games Tour, between July and August we visited four Highland Games in total; Loch Lomond, Bridge of Allan, North Berwick & Cowal. During our tour we met Pipe Bands who had travelled far and wide to compete at various Games this summer. Last week was the first in our series of Piping Stories were we caught up with Catamount from Vermont in the USA, but today is all about St John's College from Zimbabwe.
St John's College was founded in 1986 and is a leading independent secondary school for boys aged 12-18 in Harare, Zimbabwe. The College's Pipe Band was formed in 1996 and during a Speech Night held in 1997 the college Headmaster said.
I Believe the Band has become, as Neil Thompson (Band Founder) intended it should, a focus of College spirit.
The band hold an Annual Quaich which enables players to perform and attain a measure of their skill. They also perform at important events on the College Calendar, they are hired to play at functions such as weddings and corporate functions. In addition to all of this they travel to compete in many competitions both in Africa and further afield.
We met Sebastiao, Callum and Devon during the North Berwick Highland Games who told us about their first trip to Scotland. The college had travelled primarily to compete in the World Pipe Band Championships the following weekend, but were also competing at both North Berwick and Perth Highland Games. The boy's said their favourite moment of the trip to that point was attending the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. They loved the atmosphere and the opportunity to hear more pipers and to witness the technique and skill of the bands performing.
They explained that the college is one of the only Pipe Bands in Zimbabwe and before attending the college they hadn't had much exposure to Pipe Music. Sebastiao and Callum have been playing since 2016 and Devon since 2017 but even within this short time they have gained a lot of playing experience so the boy's were confident going in to the World Championships, and rightly so as the boy's came 2nd in the Novice B competition at the North Berwick games.
We kept an eye on how the college got on at the World Championships and were delighted to see that the boy's became World Champions in the Novice B category! With their new found fame as world champions, we hope that the college can introduce more of Africa to the world of Pipe Music.