Fergus resident continues to pipe for frontline workers a year later

Peter Hummel holds his left fist in the air while holding bagpipes in his right hand and standing in a living room with a television on in the background
Peter Hummel playing inside his house on a cold night. Photo courtesy of Peter Hummel.
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The sound of the bagpipes being played every night at 7:30 over the past year could be heard in Fergus, Ontario.

Those that reside in the township may already know that it’s local resident Peter Hummel playing them to thank frontline workers for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What they may not know is today marks the one-year anniversary of Hummel playing his bagpipes every night outside his home.

Hummel said while him and his wife Sandie were in lockdown the idea to play every night came from her.

“My wife had read somewhere that people were going out at 7:30 at night when there’s a shift change at this hospital in the U.K., and they’re banging their pots and pans in that neighbourhood for the workers to thank them for going to work,” Hummel said.

Sandie suggested that Hummel do the same and he agreed.

Hummel said people in his neighbourhood steadily come out every night to watch him play and on those really cold nights he would play inside his house.

He said he would stream every performance on the CareMongering Centre Wellington Facebook page.

Hummel said within the year he’s also been playing Zoom concerts for people in their living rooms, an 80th birthday party over FaceTime and the list goes on, and all for no charge at all.

“I like when people are happy because when people are happy it spreads quicker than people being upset and they always have that to hold on to, and we’ve had some times where it’s been dark and I get that, we are living through history, but we’re also living through a dark history,” Hummel said.

Hummel was almost speechless when asked how the community has responded to his bagpipe playing efforts.

“I have no words to describe how I feel about this community except that they’ve embraced what I do and it’s been super positive and I haven’t had the, ‘oh my goodness, not again,’” Hummel said.

He said since he streams his performances every night he doesn’t really pay attention to how many people are watching, but the next day he will get at least 20 messages from members of the community thanking him for playing.

“I have friends of mine that are support workers, I have friends of mine that are healthcare workers, I have friends of mine that are education workers and we are all in this together, […] I think sometimes if we forget who’s still out there doing stuff, we’ll forget how hard this really was,” Hummel said.

Hummel said the whole experience has brought him joy, happiness and pride and his bagpipe playing abilities have definitely improved.

Even though tonight will mark a year of him playing, Hummel said he won’t stop until COVID-19 is over and done with.

He added tonight will be a special performance but wanted to keep all the details a surprise.

Fergus resident, Peter Hummel: