Big thank you from

Brian celebrates 38 years with Ballycoan Pipe Band  

Pipe Bands by Mervyn McConnell

A well-known figure associated with Ballycoan Pipe band is that of Brian Rea.

Having just celebrated serving in the ranks of the band for 38 years, he also led the `Coan for 21 of them as Pipe Major. And he's still going strong, now playing in Grade 1 along with his son Alfie who took over the reins in 1998.

One of his most successful years was in 1992 when he led Ballycoan to be crowned Supreme Champion of Champions of the world, world drumming champions, Ulster champions, Champion of Champions in Drumming, and runners up at the Worlds, Cowal, and All Ireland Championships in Grade 3.

Brian retired in 1998 as Pipe Major but still remains as a playing member.

He taught most of the pipers in the band and also teaches at the School of Music.

In 2002 the band won almost every trophy available, including the Scottish, British, European, Cowal and the ultimate icing on the cake - the world championship title in Grade 2.

Ballycoan has come a long way from the early dreams of a handful of men. Today it is again building its tomorrow - taking with it the talents of young people from across the province and community.

The last meeting of the Northern Ireland Branch of the RSPBA was held last Saturday in the Bridge Community Centre, Lisburn.

Chairing the meeting was George Ussher with Winston Pinkerton vice-chairman and Lorraine McVeigh Branch secretary

The chairman announced that a grant of £36,000 had been received to set up a new youth band. All members in this band will be between 12 and 21 years of age, and it is hoped to have at least 20 pipers and 10 drummers.

The band will have qualified instructors and will be under the supervision of the School of Music.

The Youth band hopes to draw pipers and drummers from all parts of the province, so if anyone is interested, then please contact George Ussher - telephone 92 651576.

Ards Council has applied to the Branch to run a pipe band competition. This town has not had a contest in over 30 years and hopefully they will be able to be accommodated in 2005.

The 2004 calendar published by the Northern Ireland branch of the RSPBA is now on sale. This is a full colour production with pictures of pipe bands and local celebrities from all over the province. Copies can be obtained from Mervyn Herron telephone 40624849.

The Northern Ireland Branch's diary of events and officials plus other useful information will be available in the New Year.

The County Down section of the Drum Majors Training Group, which meets in Banbridge, will be holding a special day on Saturday 13 December.

As well as the usual training day for all grades, there will be some Christmas food and refreshments for all at 12 noon.

Come and support the students any time after 10.30am.

The winners of the Christmas Draw organised by the drum majors class in Banbridge, and which took place on the 29 November, were as follows: Paula Johnston Greenisland (Hamper); Sandra Campbell Ballymoney (Turkey); T. C. Autos Omagh (Vodka) and J. Lavery Portadown (sweets).

Ticket sales totalled £1,300, which will be used to purchase new trophies for drum majors.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this fund.

Ulster Star