IN 1990 a small group of disabled people who attended Victoria Park Centre met in the Drill Hall to make music together. Every Monday afternoon they enjoyed singing and playing rhythms on the few percussion instruments available. They had a lot of fun and the ‘Peebles Players’ was formed.

The group has gone from strength to strength and recently celebrated their Silver Jubilee with a party in the Eastgate Theatre.

Leader Claire Garnett, who founded the group, said: “It was wonderful to have many friends and family members join the Players in celebrating their 25 years of music making – everyone joining in enthusiastically with songs and percussion.

"We were especially glad to welcome our President, Judy Steel, who believed in us from the start – that was really encouraging.”

Tesco, a major sponsor of the Players, provided delicious refreshments for the party while the beautiful celebration cake was made by Forsyths’ baker. The Theatre was filled with sound as members, friends and family sang favourite songs and everyone played an instrument in the big percussion ensemble.

The small group from Peebles is now augmented by members from across the Borders from West Linton to Galashiels and over 40 enthusiastic musicians sing and play music on Monday afternoons. The sound of the whole group drumming is incredible but these disabled musicians have developed skills to play together in an organized and co-ordinated way so that the music created has form and dynamics. Over the years funding has enabled the group to buy a range of suitable instruments so everyone – whatever their limitations, can take part. It is wonderful to see someone totally wheel-chair bound, contribute a wildly exciting drum rhythm; or a person with complete hearing loss link into the vibrations of the beat; another with a fine voice is able to sing a solo and lead the group enthusiastically; a player with learning difficulties has everyone spellbound by a tinkling melody on the glockenspiel, for as well as playing, the group enjoys listening with appreciation to each other.

None of this could be possible without Peebles Players, for though there are many arts groups in our community; few are suitable for so many disabled folk to explore the hands-on music experience.

Peebles Players is a self supporting charity run by volunteers and always welcome more help. Claire remembers, “When the group started I did everything but now we have an army of brilliant volunteers who take on many tasks from playing the piano, devising dances, making costumes, looking after the money, and the huge job of setting up chairs and instruments for each session. There would be no group without them.”

Anyone who might be interested in supporting the Players should come along to the Eastgate on a Monday afternoon – no need for a commitment – just come along to see what goes on and enjoy some fun music!

The Players are now developing a project for their Jubilee year, in which the music tells the story of the silver salmon’s journey from the ocean up the River Tweed with original music created for each of the towns on its banks. Look out for details of this performance in the New Year – it will be one not to miss!

To find out more get in touch with Leader, Claire Garnett on 01721 740256 or go to