SCOTLAND rugby legend Gavin Hastings lined up with musicians at Edinburgh Castle today to help kick-off this year’s Pipefest 2010.
The five-yearly event will welcome thousands of pipers from 27 countries around the world for the gathering on August 7.
Pipefest aims to raise funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care, and since debuting in 1995 the festival has collected over £768,000.
Mr Hastings OBE is a bagpipe enthusiast, and while he does not play the instrument himself, he says he takes great pleasure in waving the flag for such a worthy cause.
The former Scotland rugby captain said: “I’ve been doing this since 1995, every five years when the event has taken place, and I feel like it has become my job for life now.
“It is tremendous to be raising money for such a tremendous cause, and I feel very proud to be doing something so close to the heart of the country.
“Scotland is the perfect stage for any event, and although I don’t play bagpipes myself I am very proud to hold up the flag, I do it with pride.
“Bagpipes at Murrayfield rugby stadium have been a long-standing tradition, so it also takes me back to my sporting days.”
The Edinburgh event marks the launch of the Pipefest Global Challenge which aims to unite the piping and drumming world in support of cancer and veteran charities worldwide.
The challenge is made up of a number of stages in key locations around the world, including New Zealand, South Africa and Canada – all over a 24 hour period.
This year, the Pipefest Global Challenge will start on Saturday August 7 in Edinburgh, with the final stage taking place in Coffs Harbour, Australia on August 8.
Mr Orr, who has been playing bagpipes for 25 years, said: “This event brings thousands of pipers and visitors to Scotland whenever it is on, but it also instills a real sense of pride in the community.
“I think this year we will see upwards of 250 bands joining us at our precession in August.
“Marie Curie Cancer Care has been our nominated charity since the beginning, although participators are free to raise funds for whoever they like.
“Most of the pipers who come to take part take a lot of pride in helping people in need, and even though the actual event is a lot of fun, we all enjoy helping others at the same time.”
Marie Curie has two Scottish hospices – in Glasgow and Edinburgh – which offer a range of specialist services for terminally ill patients and their carers.
Robbie McIntosh, Scotland’s events manager for Marie Curie Cancer Care said: “Pipefest is always a fantastic occasion with pipers from all over the world taking part.
“For Marie Curie, it plays a central role in our fundraising activity for Scotland.
“We’re really hoping that this year we can raise more than £100,000, which would do much to help us continue our work in Scotland.
“Our aim is to let very ill patients receive treatment in the comfort of their own homes, where possible.
“It is not conditional for those taking part to fundraise, but we hope players will at least consider fundraising at the event.”