THIS is the time of the year when some pipers and drummers, perhaps looking for new challenges, decide to try their skills with a different pipe band.
One such man is Neil Ussher from Ballinderry who has recently joined Grade 2 Ravara Pipe band as their new Leading Drummer. Last year saw Neil lead Grade 3A Upper Crossgare drum corps and under his leadership they won the drumming trophy at the North Down championships at Bangor.
He will compete in the new season with 11 drummers and several tenor drummers.
Another man taking on a new challenge is Alfie Rea who will take on the role of Pipe Major with Grade 1 Ballycoan Pipe band. Alfie is no stranger to the ranks of Ballycoan having led the band for some years, taking over from his father Brian. This will be a big challenge for Alfie in the fiercely competitive Grade 1 section, but one to which he will surely bring 100% commitment.
Another new appointment is Brendan Murphy, who competed last year with the Grade 1 Strathclyde Police from Glasgow. He is the new Pipe Major of the Howard Memorial Pipe band from Dungannon. This band will likely gain promotion to Grade 2 for the new season and look sure to make their mark in this grade.
The 5th annual 'Young Player of the Year' solo piping competition - an invitational event organised to help develop the competition skills of our younger players - took place on Friday 2nd October. The event, organised and promoted by the Competing Soloists' Organisation, was held in excellent facilities at the club rooms of Dungannon Rugby Football Club.
Named as 'Young player of the Year' was talented 17-year-old piper Grahame Harris from Templepatrick, who won the over 15-underl8 years solo section, and who competes with Ballyboley Pipe band. It was a double celebration for Grahame as he was later honoured by his band at their 100 years celebratory dinner in being promoted to the position of the band's Pipe Sergeant. He must surely rank as one of the youngest Pipe Sergeants in the current pipe band fraternity.
Winning the under 15 competition was Adam Kinley from Rathfriland.
In his introductory remarks, Gary Watterson explained that each young player taking part had "earned their invitation" through achieving success already. He promised an evening of competitive piping from some of Ireland's finest young solo pipers, and the audience were certainly not disappointed.
At the close of the competition the soloists entertained the audience with their renditions of hornpipes, jigs and reels, followed by adjudicator and Gold Medal winning soloist James Murray who also demonstrated his own considerable skill on the bagpipes.
As well as being supported by Dungannon Rugby Football Club, the competition was further supported by donors of additional prizes and ballot prizes, and the CSO is indebted to everyone who also helped in any way to make the evening such tremendous success.
Prize winners under 15 years -1st Adam Kinley. 2nd Matthew Johnston. 3rd Jake Walker. 4th Joshua Truesdale.
Over 15 - under 18 winners were 1st Grahame Harris. 2nd Alan MacPherson. 3rd Jamie Walker. 4th Ross Hume.
*The 2009 world solo drumming championships will be held on 24th October at the Glasgow Caledonia University, Glasgow. This event will be sponsored by Andante Percussion from Rathfriland.
* Please note that the Annual General Meeting of the Northern Ireland branch of the RSPBA will be held on the 14th, the second Saturday of November, and not the 7th as published in the Officials & Programme of Events 2009.