Jamaica, British Airways earn rave reviews from Bagpiper
Visiting the Caribbean was definitely on the bucket list for 23-year-old Ryan Steel, and when he got the nod to come to Jamaica to play the bagpipes at the reception in celebration of the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, he was "over the moon".
The event was hosted recently by the British High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency David Fitton and wife Hisae at their residence in Kingston.
Born in Cyprus and raised in Scotland, Steel is a member of the Royal Highland Fusiliers 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. He had never been to this region but previously served in Afghanistan.
Flying courtesy of British Airways, beginning his journey from Edinburgh to London, then on to Kingston, Steel said that he typically struggles to sleep on airplanes but found the staff on board "lovely and helpful".
Unlike his typical day at work when he spends a lot of time at music practice and physical training, he had time to savour some of the flavours of Jamaica, with "jerked chicken and barbecue ribs" getting top marks as his favourites along with "the very friendly people".
He said that he was thrilled to perform at the Queen's birthday reception and thoroughly enjoyed the additional bonus of playing with the Jamaica Military band.
This struck a special chord with Steel as he learned to play the bagpipes and highland drumming at army school. This, he confessed, "helps keep me close to my Scottish heritage".
Diane Corrie, commercial manager - Caribbean, said that British Airways was pleased to provide return air travel for Steel to Jamaica.
"Many of our passengers from Jamaica enjoy the various cultural offerings in London and beyond. Although bagpipe music is Scottish in origin, this wind instrument has been played for a millennium or more throughout large parts of Europe, including some of the cities to which British Airways flies. Apart from the various historical sites and music, arts and culture are among London's premier attractions."