The pipe band programme began in 2007 under the auspices of the East Lothian Pipes and Drums Trust, now the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust.
The Trust’s principal objective in 2007 was to help re-establish East Lothian as a centre of excellence in piping and drumming by offering free tuition to as many young people as possible.
East Lothian has a long and distinguished piping and drumming tradition. It was once an important mining area and most of the communities could boast a pipe band. As mining declined, some of the bands folded, others transformed into community bands and the county’s piping tradition was under threat. Apart from the mining community, the boys brigades, army cadet forces and scouts also played important roles encouraging and supporting piping and drumming. However, over time, such organisations offered fewer opportunities to learn these instruments with little instruction provided in the county’s state schools to compensate. A small but dedicated number of Pipe Majors and their supporters within the county’s seven pipe bands, kept the tradition of highland piping and drumming music alive by giving freely of their time and expertise.
The East Lothian Pipes and Drums Trust contributed significantly to this effort from 2007 by setting up tuition programmes covering schools in the Prestonpans and Haddington clusters and community pipe bands throughout East Lothian.
Recognising the wider impacts on pupils’ attainment, on schools and on communities, in 2014 the Trustees announced the intention to widen the charitable purposes of the Trust so that its future remit would cover the whole of Scotland. Having been accepted by The Office of the Charity Regulator (OSCR) the changes came into effect from 1st April 2015 at which time the Trust was constituted as The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT). SSPDT assumed responsibility for the activities of ELPDT, and also for programmes already underway in Scotland outside East Lothian.
The tuition costs of the pipe band programme at Preston Lodge High School and associated primary schools are met by the Colonel James Gardiner Memorial Fund, which is managed by the Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT).