The idea for that synchronised salute came from part-time town taxi driver and piper Malcolm McEwan, prompted by the Glasgow-based National Piping Centre encouraging bagpipe enthusiasts worldwide to pipe up for key workers as a gesture of appreciation.
Almost by accident, the 60-year-old has been responsible for raising the spirits of the region’s most vulnerable residents by playing his pipes outside care homes and sheltered housing complexes, as well as for individuals trapped in their homes because of the current coronavirus lockdown.
It all started when he took his chanter along to the car park at Morrisons in Hawick, trade being slow these days due to most people rarely venturing out of their homes, and started playing spontaneously for shoppers queueing to get in.
Malcolm says he has been inspired by the spirit of resilience he has seen among Borders and is keen to do whatever he can to help keep morale up during these testing times.
And tonight, April 2, he has roped in nine other pipers to perform across Hawick as a tribute to those workers risking infection to look after others.
The pipers will be positioned all around Hawick, including at Burnfoot, Stirches, the west end and the terraces, and they’ll join in tonight’s second national round of applause for carers and others at 8pm.
Malcolm, employed by JW Taxis in Hawick, said: “It all started a week past Thursday. I brought my chanter out to Morrisons, and the crowds were getting bigger and bigger and I ended up just playing to cheer them up.
“From that, St Margaret’s Care Home in Hawick asked if I would go and play for the residents and then it kind of snowballed to Weens House in Bonchester Bridge and at the community hospital in Hawick and the Riverside nursing home in Selkirk, and I’ve done the sheltered housing schemes at Teviot Court and Douglas Haig Court in Hawick.
“I’ve played for people’s birthdays and wedding anniversaries, and folk who are stuck abroad have asked me to play for their mums and dads.
“Just to see the faces at the window clapping along and waving is fantastic.
“It’s a bit emotional sometimes, but it is absolutely lovely to see.
“We have got a load of pensioners trapped inside sheltered housing and community hospitals, and to see the faces at the windows is just incredible.
“I’ll keep doing it if it keeps people smiling.”
Malcolm added: “I’m basically doing this at lunchtimes, and John, my boss, has been fantastic.
“To be honest with you, taxi drivers are not making a living at the moment. We are providing a service more than making a living.
“The Borders’ communities are just phenomenal.
“As a taxi driver, I’ve had people pay the double the fare and ask that I let the next pensioner ride for free.”
Tonight’s clap for our carers takes place across the Borders and the rest of the UK at 8pm.
Send in any photos or videos you take of your families and communities joining in to [email protected] or via our Facebook page so we can show our medics and other key workers how much they’re appreciated online and in next week’s paper.
For further details, go to clapforourcarers.co.uk