IT is good news to hear the New Zealand Police Pipe band will be making a short tour of Ireland in June 2005.
They hope to compete at the European Championships, which will be held at Banbridge and have already sent in their entry form to compete at the Co. Down Championships, which will take place at Castle Ward Demesne also in June. They also plan to visit the South of Ireland and compete at Howth.
The band are under the direction of their new Pipe Major Graeme Bilsland, who took over from Pipe Major Alistair Hannings who retired in July 2003.
Raymond Malcolm will lead the drum corps of the band.
Seven Towers Pipe Band held a Dinner By Mervyn McConnell dance in the Adair Arms Hotel recently to celebrate their great successes last season. Under the leadership of Pipe Major David Reid and Leading Tip Michael Cathcart the band won almost every trophy in the competition field including the four majors - Scottish, European, Worlds and Cowal - plus the All Ireland championships.
They were also declared Champion of Champions in both piping and drumming in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
These successes earned them promotion to Grade 3A.
The dinner was well attended and the guests were treated to a video of the band playing their winning performance at the world championships in August.
A special medal was given to each player to commemorate winning the world championship as well as All Ireland medals.
Pipe Major David Reid and Leading Tip Michael Cathcart were then presented with a gift of a beautiful cut glass lamp on behalf of all the band.
It was a very emotional David Reid who thanked everyone in the band who had supported him during the year and stressed that it was a joint effort by everyone that had earned the band its many successes.
A special thank you was given to Frank Andrews whose help proved invaluable to the band over the season.
Guests of honour included Ronnie Crawford, President of the Northern Ireland branch and his wife Jean; George Ussher Chairman of the Northern Ireland Branch and President of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association in Scotland and his wife Elyse; Mervyn Herron Contest secretary and National Council member and his wife Ann.
Staying with Seven Towers, the band held their annual general meeting recently and voted into office was Councillor and former mayor of Ballymena Mr Tommy Nicholl.
David Reid stays as Pipe Major along with Michael Cathcart as Leading Tip and Maurice Torrington as Chairman.
The evening was chaired by the well-known figure Tommy Millar, presenter of Radio Ulster's 'Touch of Tartan' and 'Pipes and Drums'.
The band hope to compete at four of the five majors as well as all the local competitions.
Plans are well underway to host a concert in Ballee High School in April as well as co-host the Seven Towers piping and drumming solos in March along with the Co. Antrim branch.
John Griffiths has taken over as Pipe Major of Grade 3B Cottown Pipe Band from Bangor.
John is the ex Pipe Major of Grade 3 Bangor Caledonia Pipe band who have been out of the competition arena for some six years now.
Since then he has played with Grade 1 Bleary Pipe Band from Co. Armagh.
He will be assisted by Bobby Boyd as leading drummer and both these men will no doubt bring their many talents and abilities to the band as they prepare for the new season.
Anyone interested in joining them will be made very welcome. John can be contacted on 91 818120.
The Northern Ireland branch of the RSPBA is looking for an assistant secretary to help the secretary Mrs Margaret Montgomery. For further details of this position please contact Margaret at 15 Cockhill Road, Maze, Lisburn BT 27 5RS or telephone 9262 1621.