Dagenham Girl Pipers return to Singapore 45 years after independence celebration

The world’s first girl pipers band are to fly to Singapore almost half a century after performing in the country to mark its independence from Malaysian rule.

The legendary marching band, the Dagenham Girl Pipers celebrated their 80th anniversary in 2010.

Now the band are planning to make a return trip to the Asian city state – 45 years after going there to train the country’s first girl pipers.

Dagenham Girl Pipers major Sheila Hatcher, 65, said: “I’m so excited because we haven’t been there for 45 years.

“How wonderful it is to go to place you visited and where you met people when you were so young.

“It’s a lifelong dream. All I want is to get out there.”

Mrs Hatcher was just 20 when she visited Singapore as the country prepared to mark its second anniversary of independence.

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Along with two other girl pipers, Carole Crunfield and Peggy Iris, Mrs Hatcher taught around 40 young Asian women to play the Scottish pipes.

The trio then performed with the pipers from Singapore as they paraded in the island city for its national day celebrations on August 9, 1967.

The Dagenham marching band have been in touch with the Singapore Girl Pipers, who have since become the Singapore Police Band.

Five of the 16 players in Dagenham Girl Pipers will fly to Singapore in October.

Mrs Hatcher, of Grays, Essex, added: “After 45 years, Singapore has changed drastically.

“We have been in touch with the girls out there – that’s why we decided that before we get too old, we must make a return visit.”

The Dagenham marching band was founded by Rev Joseph Graves in 1930. It turned professional three years later and toured nations in Africa, America, Australia, Europe and Asia.

Dagenham Girl Pipers are looking for sponsorship for their trip. Anyone interested in helping can email keithhatcher@msn.com

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