A “WHEELED Piper” who was told she would never be able to play the bagpipes proved the critics wrong as she led more than 100 musicians through Glasgow.

Katie Robertson was at the head of the 2023 Big Band on Monday as the Piping Live! Festival really got underway.

Around 30,000 people are expected to attend the programme of events as the piping festival returns for its 20th anniversary year.

On Monday, the Piping Live! Big Band performed its sixth showcase, this time in honour of the Versus Arthritis charity, and Robertson was at its head.


Incredible start to Piping Live! 2023 with ‘the Wheeled Piper’ Katie Robertson 👏👏

♬ original sound - The National

Appearing as part of the Big Band for the first time, Robertson said she had started playing the bagpipes two years ago and it had helped save her life.

She said: “When I found out I needed life-threatening, and saving, spinal fusion surgery for severe scoliosis, I became determined to progress on the pipes. It was my piping that saved me, both physically as my lungs were stronger, and mentally because it was the best medicine.

“I suffer from arthritis and have since I was four, so this year’s charitable cause is one that’s close to my heart. I was told I would never play the pipes but I’ve been able to prove those doubters wrong and have had the chance to play with some of my biggest inspirations over the last two years.

The National:

The Wheeled Piper (above with others) went on: “Most importantly, I feel connected in a community that accepts me for my love of music – that’s why participating in the Big Band is such an amazing opportunity. It’s a way for me to support a charity that helps people like me. It’s changing perceptions on what anyone can do too, focusing on what you can do, not what you can’t.

“I can’t walk, but piping’s more impressive anyway!”

The Big Band marched from Mansefield Park in Partick to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Finlay MacDonald, the artistic director for Piping Live!, said: “The Big Band is such a fitting way to get the Piping Live! celebrations underway, welcoming pipers and drummers of all ages and abilities to play together and entertain the people of Glasgow.

READ MORE: Piping Live's Finlay MacDonald: 10 things that changed my life

“The inclusive and celebratory nature of this march really epitomises what the festival is all about and heralds in a fantastic week ahead for our 20th edition.

“We’ve got an incredible programme of world-class performances, music sessions, recitals, talks, competitions, book launches, workshops and so much more to look forward to over the coming days. I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to the lineup and made this year’s festival possible. Whether you have bought a ticket, donated, are performing, working or volunteering at Piping Live! 2023, we couldn’t do it without you.

“You can really feel the buzz of anticipation in the air for this year’s event. We would encourage anyone interested to get down and experience all that the world’s biggest piping festival has to offer. ”

Piping Live! 2023 will run from August 12-20. You can find more information here.