Coronavirus in Scotland: The piper who played more than 150 care home performances

Conner PrattImage copyright
Stephen Smith

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Conner has performed all over the UK with his pipe band, but lockdown meant things became more local

Just before lockdown Conner Pratt, 21, piped for the Queen at Westminster Abbey on Commonwealth Day.

But as Scotland ground to a halt, he swapped grand performances for the gardens and car parks of care homes near where he lives.

Conner, who normally plays in the house band for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, piped more than 150 times in Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy and Leven at free gigs to keep up the resident’s spirits.

And when his own birthday came around on Thursday, the local community decided it was time to do something for him.

‘Bright red in the face’

Neighbours, colleagues, family and friends marched to the bellow of his old pipe major and surprised Conner on his 21st birthday at his home in Coalton of Balgonie, near Glenrothes.

“I was absolutely gob-smacked. I was bright red face in the face,” he explained.

Image copyright
Stephen Smith

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The community organised a banner to celebrate Conner’s birthday and his efforts during lockdown

“I heard bagpipes and I was like who plays bagpipes around here? That’s my territory”.

Conner said that it was “emotional” for the community to honour him and that he nearly cried.

‘We just kept going’

During lockdown Conner, along with some members of the Glenrothes and District Pipe Band where he used to play, performed at local care homes.

They would take requests and pipe regardless of the weather for the residents who watched through their windows, unable to go outside.

Image copyright
Debbie Munro

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Conner, second from the left, and some of his fellow pipers playing to staff and residents at Leven Beach care home

He played for one resident to mark their 100th birthday and for the NHS staff at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh to commemorate VE day.

The student, who studies music at the University of Highlands and Islands, said piping was his passion and that he wanted to make people happy.

“We just kept going and going and going. It was simply to cheer up the community.

Image copyright
Conner Pratt

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Conner performed every Thursday during lockdown to honour the NHS

“And it kept me going too. I was bored and wanted to make the residents smile.

“Some of them would have a wee dance, it was all quite cute,” Conner said.

BBC News