The East Lothian Pipes and Drums Trust (ELPDT) was founded in 2007. By 2014 the Trustees decided to widen the charitable purposes of the Trust to the whole of Scotland, and in April 2015 changed its name to The Scottish Schools Pipes & Drums Trust (SSPDT).
The Trust’s principal objective in 2007 was to help re-establish East Lothian as a centre of excellence in piping and drumming by offering free tuition to as many young people as possible.
East Lothian has a long and distinguished piping and drumming tradition. It was once an important mining area and most of the communities could boast a pipe band. Some of these were very well- known, notably Prestonlinks Colliery which was one of Scotland’s best pipe bands at one time. As mining declined, some of the bands folded, others transformed into community bands and the county’s piping tradition was under threat. Apart from the mining community, the boys brigades, army cadet forces and scouts played important roles encouraging and supporting piping and drumming. Over time there were fewer opportunities to learn these instruments with little instruction provided in the county’s state schools to compensate. A small but dedicated number of Pipe Majors and their supporters within the county’s seven pipe bands, kept the tradition of highland piping and drumming music alive by giving freely of their time and expertise.
The East Lothian Pipes and Drums Trust contributed significantly to this effort from 2007 by setting up tuition programmes covering schools in the Prestonpans and Haddington clusters and community pipe bands throughout East Lothian. From January 2012 ELPDT increased its commitment programme with the appointment of Lee Moore as the full-time Pipe Major of the Prestonpans Cluster, supported by Simon Grant as the new Drum Major with the objective of developing a competing school pipe band.
ELPDT lobbied East Lothian Council (ELC) to establish piping and drumming as part of the school’s instrumental instruction programme and ELC created a post for a piping tutor for three days per week to cover the schools in the County that ELPDT did not cover.
In parallel, the Trust provided tuition to young people through seven local community bands: Cockenzie & Port Seton Royal British Legion, Dunbar Royal British Legion, Haddington, Musselburgh, North Berwick, Prestonpans Royal British Legion and Prestonpans & District. (The latter closed as a pipe band in August, 2014.)
There are currently over 200 youngsters learning to play the chanter/pipes or drums in East Lothian through the schools cluster programmes at Haddington and in Prestonpans, and through the tuition provided to the community pipe bands.
In 2014, recognising the impact of piping and drumming on the young people and on their schools and communities, the Trustees decided to develop new programmes in other areas of Scotland.