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Competitive trip to Scotland will be an eye-opener

This past Victoria Day Monday, the College of Piping Pipe Bands had the honour and thrill to play for the arrival of Prince Charles and Camilla to Charlottetown.

We were a small but mighty band with each of our three bands being represented.

While playing for royalty is exciting in its own right, I had never realized that simply being at an airport could cause such a thrill either for some of our members. 

In August we’ll have about 80 people board an Iceland Air flight bound for Glasgow, Scotland. Some in our group have never been on a plane and some have never even crossed a border. To see the fascination at a local airport when we weren’t even going anywhere was pretty neat to see. I can’t wait to see the faces when we actually board the flight and get going on the actual journey. I think that some faces will start to hurt from the constant smiles (if Monday was any indication).   

I remember my first flight. It was 1990 and we were headed across the pond with the Vancouver Ladies Pipe Band to compete at the World Pipe Band Championships. I was in the junior band at the time and we were supposed to go as well but in the end it was decided that just the senior band would make the trip. I wasn’t too upset as my family was going as supporters and we were staying after to compete at the Cowal Highland Games. 

The trip was a special one for my sisters and me. It wasn’t just because it was our first time on a plane or our first time in Scotland. It stands out for me because it was the first time we had ever met my Uncle John (my father’s brother) and Aunt Jean.

They lived in Leeds, England and he and my aunt made the trip up to Glasgow to meet with us for a mini holiday. I’m not sure that my uncle knew what he was getting into when he met three hyperactive little girls bouncing around (my older sister was going through her sullen, too cool awkward teenage phase so therefore barely spoke).

My Uncle John is a bit of a prankster and teaser and had us shrieking with laughter (or was it terror?) the whole time. Looking back I’m sure my mom was exasperated with him and us as she couldn’t get us to settle down and stay calm during the visit.

My Aunt Jean wasn’t sure what to do with us noisy boisterous girls as they had only raised boys. I think she was a little bit relieved when the visit was over. It was the first and last time I would ever meet my aunt. She died not too many years later from cancer. It was a visit that I won’t soon forget.

This trip will have many firsts for our members: the first flight, the first time in Scotland, the first time competing in an international contest. I can’t wait to see Scotland through their eyes.

This trip may have an even bigger impact on them than just competing on a world stage. They might meet a relative for the first time.  

Kylie MacHattie is a bagpipe instructor at the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada in Summerside.

Organizations: College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada, Vancouver Ladies Pipe Band

Geographic location: Scotland, Glasgow, Leeds England Summerside

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