Anyone standing in the vicinity of Lions Gate Hospital Monday evening would have found themselves swept up in the glorious cacophony of a highland pipe band.
About a dozen members of the Robert Malcom Memorial junior band, an offshoot of the world renowned SFU Pipe Band, showed up to join the 7 p.m. nightly cheers for COVID-19 front-line workers.
All of the band’s competitions and performances for the year have been scrapped thanks to the pandemic, said Andrew McTaggart, whose daughter Emma plays the highland pipes. They still practise together via their computers but the kids wanted to pull together an impromptu performance to boost the morale of the nurses and doctors toiling inside Lions Gate.
“It was mostly North Shore kids, and there were a couple of other families from Coquitlam and New West who joined,” McTaggart said. “It was enough to make a little mini-band, and they stood outside the police station across the street and played a few of their parade tunes.”
The songs they chose included "Scotland the Brave/The Rowan Tree," "Green Hills of Tyrol/When the Battle is Over" and "Highland Laddie."
It was meant to be a show of support for everyone working inside, but they had one set of ears they wanted to reach in particular – a Lions Gate ER nurse and fellow member of the pipe band.
“She was just ecstatic,” said Angela Ballantyne, whose son Liam Courchaine was among the pipers.
She wasn’t the only one, McTaggart said.
One of the Lions Gate nurses told them her safety visor fogged up. And another of the dads in the group, a Scot himself, had to take the dog for a long walk after to blow of some steam.
“He was so proud of (his daughter), he was crying like a baby,” he said.
The bandmates have plans to regroup on Wednesday to play for the seniors inside the Lynn Valley Care home and at Royal Columbian Hospital.
“It was great. The kids really enjoyed doing it,” Ballantyne said.
During the last weeks of March, Central Lonsdale resident Francis Wimberley – also known as the Pink Pied Piper – began playing his bagpipes outside of lGH at 7 p.m. in support of health-care workers.