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V8s provide musical spinoff for Raglan

Many Hamiltonians will be glad to see the back of the V8 Supercars but this weekend’s ITM 400 will be music to the ears of Raglan residents.

For the Seventies-Plus Highlanders are abandoning their weekly pipe practice under the Frankton bridge this Friday in favour of a performance first at Raglan Trust Hospital then downtown around midday.

There’ll be up to 11 pipers and eight drummers in full regalia — among them locals Deirdre Bourne, Rob Kirkwood and Brett McCardle who are comparatively youthful band members amid the stalwarts now in their 70s and 80s.

Not that age is a deterrent to band members like diehard Ray Miller. Playing the bagpipes has been a lifelong passion, says the octogenarian who also plays competitively with the Hamilton Caledonian Society which didn’t do “too bad” at the national champs held recently in Tauranga.

The Seventies-Plus Highlanders are also a force to be reckoned with, after more than 10 years in the game and trips as much social as musical to different parts of the country. Such is the band’s longevity that a change of name to Eighties-Plus could well be in the pipeline, adds Ray.

Meantime the three locals who play with them have had some success in rejuvenating the Raglan Pipe Band which, says Deirdre, was quite big in its heyday. They’ve managed to get a few more members to boost the ranks, and practise regularly at the local fire station where the strains of pipes can be heard floating across the still water of the estuary come Tuesday nights.

Summertime has seen the band often practising out-of-doors, drawing an appreciative audience of passers-by. “People love it,” enthuses Deirdre, keen now to attract more members and get funding for equipment and workshops.

*Phone Deirdre on 825 7132 to find out more about pipe/drum lessons and band practises at the fire station, Tuesday’s 7.30-9.30pm. Or just turn up.

Edith Symes

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