IT is with deep sadness that we record the loss of two of the most respected men in pipe band circles.
Sam Hodgen died after a lengthy illness on February 4, and his funeral was held last Saturday at Clonduff Presbyterian Church.
Sam's name was synonymous with drumming, having started his famous Andante Percussion firm in 1986 which built the new Andante snare drum, as well as a range of drumming accessories. Andante went on to compete directly with Premier and Pearl, and bands such as Ballycoan, the Vale of Atholl, Boghall & Bathgate, Tayside Police and Lothian & Borders Police are currently playing them.
Sam was an avid supporter of the RSPBA's world solo drumming championships for many years, and was the sole sponsor of the event for over 10 years. A tribute was paid to him, when a few years ago, the world's solo drumming championships were held in Northern Ireland.
Sam was the Pipe Major for many years of Moneygore Pipe Band, and many of the band members turned out in support of the family in their sad loss.
Among the mourners were Richard and Gordon Parkes, Terry Tully, Rev. Frankie Gibson, and representing the
Northern Ireland branch of the RSPBA, David Scott (secretary) Fred Walker (President) and Mervyn Herron (Contest Administrator).
Ian Neill played the lament and 11 drummers, including Jim Kilpatrick, Gordon and Tom Brown, Paul Turner and John McFetridge, gave the drum salute at the graveside.
In the words of Mervyn Herron "Sam was a true friend to the pipe band world and will be sadly missed."
Kit Reynolds, former champion drummer with Ballycoan, Robert Armstrong Memorial and Invergordan died suddenly at his home on February 2.
Kit was born in Belfast in 1927, and started drumming with the Sydenham Pipe Band before moving on to Ballycoan, and then to the famous Robert Armstrong Memorial in 1964.
During his pipe band career he became involved in all aspects of pipe banding, and was a well respected RSPBA adjudicator.
His funeral was held last Friday from his home to the Church of Scotland in Invergordan, Scotland.
The deepest sympathy of all in the pipe band movement is extended to both these families in their sad loss. Paul Brown, a drummer with Grade 1 St.Laurence O'Toole from Dublin, is the man behind the initiative promoting piping and drumming in the Fife region of Scotland.
Entitled 'Kingdom Thistle, it is hoped that the idea will give young people the opportunity to play and take part in local events.
Their first major event will be the 'Kingdom Thistle solo piping and drumming competition' on April 11 at Lochgelly High School. The event will include competitions ranging from under 13 to senior level. The solo piping will be limited the first year to light music, but the group, made up of a committee of non-playing members, plan to add piobaireacdh and bass and tenor drumming in 2010.
This event will be the first to be held that will be open to everyone in the Fife region and has the support of the RSPBA.
Tommy Millar's Touch of Tartan returned to BBC Radio Ulster last Saturday at 7.30pm. Starting off the show was Ballycoan with Pipe Major Glenn Cupples, and Upper Crossgare with Pipe Major Mark Rodgers.
Next week's event will feature Manor Cunningham, Cullenfad and Seven Towers, and the series will run for 8 weeks with a weekly repeat every Sunday afternoon at 2pm.