New York, Isle Love You

A Benbecula school pipe band is hoping to be the first-ever pipe band from the Outer Hebrides to spread the Spirit of Scotland at the New York Tartan Parade next year.

Sgoil Lionacleit (Lionacleit High School) Pipe Band – the only school pipe band in the Western Isles – has launched a £40,000 crowdfunding campaign to make their dream-trip a reality, and has received the backing of multi-award winning Gaelic singer/songwriter Julie Fowlis, who originally hails from the Outer Hebrides.

Pipe band members photographed at the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships this year

As Scotland approaches 2018, the Year of Young People, VisitScotland is celebrating the band’s ScotSpirit. By being ambassadors for Scotland and showing their determination and spark, they help inspire even more visitors to come to this amazing country.

The band, made up of school children aged 12-17 years, hope to join the thousands of participants in the New York City Tartan Parade as they march down 6th Avenue on 7 April 2018.

The parade is the highlight of Tartan Week – celebrating its 20th anniversary next year – which recognises the links that Scotland has with the USA and the contribution Scottish-Americans have made.

Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band aim to share and celebrate their music, dance, Gaelic language and culture during the parade, in addition to performing for specific Gaelic audiences and groups within New York, whilst wearing their own unique tartan. A recent full council meeting of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar endorsed the pipe band as “cultural ambassadors for the Western Isles”.

The USA is a key international visitor market for Scotland with 451,000 visits from the States last year, bringing in £510 million to the national economy.

Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band are the current Freestyle Champions of the Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships and have been placed in the top six in their class at the World Pipe Band Championships for two years running.

John Daniel Peteranna, Chairman, Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band, said: “To travel to New York would provide a wonderful opportunity for the Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band to celebrate and promote the music, dance and Gaelic culture of the Outer Hebrides. These young people will do so with pride. They really enjoy their music and would love to share it with this international audience. It is in their blood, it is close to their hearts, it is who they are.

“They gain so many skills from their pipe band experience - discipline, leadership and team work – and there is also the feel good factor of playing music together and being one of the best Scottish School pipe bands.

“Some of them have never travelled abroad before so imagine how excited they will all be to travel to New York, the Big Apple, to play and share their Hebridean music and culture on this American and international stage. With your help we can make their dream - a life changing reality.”

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