July 15, 2013

Piper seeks to honor public safety officers

The founder of Guns 'N Hoses Pipes and Drums of Maine says fallen heroes deserve bagpipe tributes.

By Edward D. Murphy emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Rob Simmons, founder of the Guns ’N Hoses Pipes and Drums of Maine, plays the bagpipes at his Falmouth home on Saturday.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

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Rob Simmons, shown in uniform Saturday, has played at funerals for heroes who fell in the line of duty.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

READ PROFILES of the firefighters who died in Arizona.

Among those encouraging Simmons to form the band was Kate Savidge, who became a student of Simmons' when she got a bagpipe set from her family on Mother's Day seven years ago.

Bagpiping is extremely difficult, she said, noting that she played about a half-dozen instruments before taking up the pipes.

"Remember when, as a kid, you would try to march in place and rub your tummy and tap your head and chew gum at the same time?" she said. "It's that type of instrument.

"It touches something in your soul," Savidge said of the pipes. At funerals for public safety officers, she added, "it just feels like the right thing to do."

Like Simmons, Savidge loved the sound of the pipes from childhood, but admits that playing in front of people has been somewhat nerve-wracking. However, she said, Simmons has helped her overcome that and she has joined Guns 'N Hoses.

"When I played for my first line-of-duty funeral -- I think it was in Boston -- it really brought it all together," said Savidge, who is married to a Falmouth police officer.

"The ability to honor public safety people is so important. It really drives home the importance of playing well and with feeling. You've got to mean it," she said. "They've given their life for what they do and you've just got to do it to make it right."

Simmons said he will focus on both recruiting more pipers and drummers and also raising money.

He said outfitting a piper with an instrument, along with the kilt and other parts of the uniform, can easily exceed $2,000. He said pipers and drummers also pay their own way to funerals out of state and would like to use donated funds to offset some of that cost.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

emurphy@pressherald.com

 

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