MEMBERS of Scotland’s favourite indy pipe band – Saor Alba Pipes and Drums – are making their final preparations for Catalonia’s national day next week.

Saor Alba was approached just a few weeks ago by Catalans who asked them to be part of La Diada celebrations, but while they were surprised and honoured, the fairly short notice left them little time to generate the resources and make arrangements for the whole band to travel. Now, 11 members are preparing to join hundreds of thousands of people in Barcelona as part of the main procession through the Catalan capital.

Lead drummer Gerry Graham told The National: “It was an amazing and unexpected invitation, but it was just such short notice for so many of the band for this year. However, a few of us felt that we could manage the time and personal expense, and with fantastic support from our Catalan friends and hosts, 11 of us are on our way on Monday.

“We see so many Catalan flags on our marches, supporting the cause of Scottish independence, and there’s a great feeling of empathy between the Scots and Catalans.

“I guess we just want to show our appreciation and our solidarity with what is a similar independence goal.”

He said small donations to help with travel costs could be made via PayPal:

The National will be following the Saor Alba members on their trip in words and pictures. Graham said players were looking forward to it and “might even have a wee surprise or two for our Catalan hosts”.