THE Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has stepped in at the last minute to allow a pipe band to play at tomorrow’s record-breaking piping attempt in Holyrood Park.
President Musharraf’s personal involvement came about when he learned that Patiala Pipe Band of Pakistan couldn’t afford to travel to Edinburgh’s Pipefest 2005.
The head of state said the trip was important for international relations and personally organised 31 flight tickets for the band, who touched down in Edinburgh yesterday.
Pipefest 2005, which is being held in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care Scotland, will take place in the playing fields behind the Palace of Holyroodhouse with more than 8000 pipers from around the world expected.
It will be the first time so many bagpipe players have performed in the same place and at the same time, and they hope to raise more than £150,000 for the cancer charity.
Pipefest will net the Capital an expected £15 million tourism windfall and countries represented by bands include Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the United States and Canada.
Australian entertainer Rolf Harris and Scots rugby legend Gavin Hastings led previous record-breaking parades along Princes Street in 1995 and 2000 respectively, the latter event attracting 8800 pipers. Unfortunately, there was no Guinness Book of Records official present.
The free parade has been organised by bagpipe players Thomas Grotrian and Magnus Orr, who aim to smash Pipefest’s own official record of almost 3000 for the world’s biggest simultaneous piping display.
“Moving from Princes Street to Holyrood gives us a lot more space to play with,” explained Magnus Orr. “The blocks we’re marching in will have up to 250 pipers in them and the plan is for every piper to be playing Scotland the Brave and march forward one block. If it comes off, it should be an amazing sight.”
The parade starts at 1.45pm and the world-record attempt will take place at 4pm with First Minister Jack McConnell on hand to take the official salute. Other dignitaries expected to attend include Lord Provost Lesley Hinds, Glasgow’s Lord Provost Liz Cameron, the Scottish Parliament’s presiding officer George Reid and a number of the city’s diplomats.
The post-parade party is taking place at Meadowbank Sports Centre from 5.30pm and Mr Orr urged people to come along and enjoy the ceilidh atmosphere that will be on offer.
Pipefest officials have been rallying support for the extravaganza at other major piping events throughout the year, such as the annual Tartan Day parade through the heart of New York, and last week’s Piping Live! festival in Glasgow.
Diana Hekerem, Marie Curie Cancer Care’s Pipefest fundraising manager, urged people to come to the event. She said: “It will be a fabulous day out for all the family, with pipers gathering from all across the globe in an attempt to smash the world record in aid of Marie Curie.
“Every penny raised will provide nursing care for terminally ill people in Scotland.”