Early this year, the Covid-19 pandemic arrived, presenting a momentous challenge to our well-being and a massive change in our way of life.
Early in February 2001, Foot-and-Mouth disease also caused a huge crisis within our communities.
Back then, farmers were prohibited from moving stock; mass culls of farm animals took place. Life as we knew it stalled. The animals, the farming community, the local folk, all suffered greatly.
The Pipe Band wanted to help. Andrew Miller explained: “All the villages had been missing the income from the shows; we thought we could help them out during this fallow year. We all loved the TV show: Billy Connolly’s World Tour of Scotland. It came to me – why don’t we have a World Tour of Coquetdale!”
Andrew secured sponsorship from the National Park Authority, and word got around. Many musicians joined in, including Chris Stout, the famous Scottish fiddle player, and Finlay MacDonald, (recently appointed Director of Piping at the National Piping Academy), Rothbury’s accordion player, Lynn Tocker, and many others. Adverts were made, people were told, excitement mounted.
The World Tour of Coquetdale took place to great acclaim. The Band played at each village, the pubs were full, music rang out around Coquetdale. It was a tremendous, resounding, success.
Once the farming crisis passed, the Shows resumed; but people remembered the World Tour and pleaded with the Band to do it again. So from 2009 it became an annual event, until this year, when again a public health crisis has prevented the Shows and the Tour.
As this is the Centenary Year of the Band, the cancellations are particularly unlucky. But no-one in RHPB stays down for long: “Next year we’ll have the biggest and best celebration ever!” Hayley Herron predicts.
I am sure that they will: 2021’s celebration and Tour will be a musical party not to be missed!
Here is a link to a video of the Tour in 2014: https://youtu.be/73P7rxikaZY
*This series of articles about Rothbury Highland Pipe Band is dedicated to David Brown, MBE, who died on Monday. He was greatly respected as the Band Drum Major for many years. I met him when he joined the campaign to save Rothbury Community Hospital. David will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by the community of Coquetdale.