A PRIVATE school on the south coast of England has appointed the country’s first full-time, live-in bagpipe teacher.
The Scots-mad head of exclusive Buckswood School in Hastings, East Sussex, introduced the quintessentially-Scottish instrument to give help give his pupils a “life-long skill”.
Despite being just 50 miles from the French coast and 400 miles from the border with Scotland, Buckswood has adopted the bagpipe as its official instrument.
Stuart Cummings, 21, from Ayrshire, started work this week as live-in, full-time bagpipe teacher after spotting the “dream job” advert on Twitter.
He will tutor pupils at the £6,160-a-term school, helping them compete in music competitions across the country.
Head teacher Giles Sutton, whose love of the Scottish instrument was inspired by his student days at St Andrews University, Fife, introduced the instrument to the school a decade ago.
Mr Sutton said the appointment of a bagpipe teacher was an important step.
He said: “The bagpipes are such an unusual instrument and we just wanted to do something completely different.
“We are the furthest south of Scotland you can get, and I believe we are the only school in England to have a full-time live-in bagpipe teacher.
“I really wanted the kids to have a life-long skill, something they can talk about, and they will always been wanted every Hogmanay.”
There are currently 15 pipers and chanters at the school, and the troop dress up in full Scottish attire, complete with kilts and sashes.
They play at other schools, lead local processions, festivals.
The group has won six out of the last seven local music competitions they entered.
Mr Sutton added: “I love Scotland. I went to St Andrews University and enjoyed the music, attending the odd ceilidh.
“Another group of our pupils have just returned from an educational trip to Edinburgh, which they really enjoyed.
“Like anything new, when the kids first start learning, it’s a case of ‘oh do I have to?’ but then they get into it, its different and exciting and will give them something to talk about after leaving Buckswood.”
Stuart said he started learning bagpipes when he was ten-years-old.
“I think I just chose the most annoying instrument I could think of when my parents told me I had to learn something,” he said.
“But now I absolutely love it. I was self-employed before being offered the job at Buckswood and have played at a hospital fundraiser that Gordon Brown attended, and even gave Jedward a bagpipe lesson.
“My father is a Church of Scotland minister and I played at a number of funerals, including Sir James Black who invented beta blockers, and at a funeral that Meryl Streep attended.
“I absolutely love teaching kids and it’s fantastic to watch them start from scratch to winning prizes in music competitions.”