A special celebration took place last Tuesday evening in the Island Centre Lisburn City
It was an evening to celebrate the amazing success of the pipers drummers and drum majors of the Northern Ireland Branch at the world championships in August 2004.
Speaking to the distinguished guests Councillor Ronnie Crawford President of the Northern Ireland Branch said: "We all are gathered to pay tribute to the undisputed champions of the world in all three disciplines. Never before has such a momentous success been achieved and it was left to the bands of the Northern Ireland Branch to do it."
Chairman George Ussher introduced visiting VIP's who made presentations of engraved cut glass bowls to the pipe majors. They included George Paton and George Holmes of the Ulster-Scots Agency, Eddie Montgomery from Edenderry Print and Councillor Seamus Close, both vice presidents of the Branch.
Presentations were also made to Elizabeth Sloan and Brian Wilson world champion drum majors and Chris McNicholl winner of the juvenile Two world solo drumming championships held recently.
Special praise was given to the Pipe Major of Field Marshal Montgomery whom Councillor Ronnie Crawford pointed out had celebrated a personal victory at Glasgow Green. In spite of suffering a stroke earlier in the year Richard had battled back and led his band to winning the ultimate prize in piping the Grade 1 championship crown.
Councillor Crawford said: "On behalf of everyone, I want to say to this brilliant dedicated gifted pipe major. well done Richard Parkes MBE.
He concluded his speech by saying. "McNeillstown, Annsborough, Seven Towers, Finvoy, Ballinderry Bridge and Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Bands, as well as Drum Majors Elizabeth Sloan and Brian Wilson, were names that resounded to the call of victory on Glasgow Green that day and how proud we were of you all.
Chairman George Ussher welcomed everyone to the last meeting of the Northern Ireland branch of the RSPBA held on Saturday, November 27 which was well attended by representatives of the pipe bands. George thanked all concerned for their support at the recent Children In Need event, which took place in Belfast. Up to the moment a cheque for £1200 has been donated for this cause and there is more still money to come.
A new band was also welcomed into the Northern Ireland branch and it is Lisnamulligan from outside Rathfriland. They will be competing in Grade 413 under Pipe Major Geoffrey Bready who was the pipe major of Woodgrange for some 25 years.
Next year will see two special events in the pipe band calendar. The 60th anniversary of the All Ireland will take place on Saturday, July 2 in Newcastle and the 75th anniversary of the world pipe band championships on Saturday, August 13. Music board representative Pipe Major Richard Parkes MBE also informed the meeting that in future any band who won their qualifying drumming section will no longer be eligible to play in the final competition unless the whole band also qualifies.
The Northern Ireland Branch will be organising the Ulster Piping and Drumming Solos in the New Year and they have promised top adjudicators for this event. The date is April 16, 2005 and all soloists will be notified in good time by the branch secretary Mrs Margaret Montgomery.
Finally an extraordinary general meeting will be held the last Saturday in January 2005 in the Bridge Community Centre Lisburn.
Anything that would need to be brought to the AGM in Glasgow on March 12, 2005 can be put forward at the meeting on January 29.
Mervyn Herron has the new 2005 pipe band calendar out on sale now and feature all the winning world champion pipe bands and drum majors. Plus all the dates for your diary of the forthcoming competitions and special events for 2005 are on these calendars.
He has also handy colourful flyers of events for next season which are free and these and the calendars can be obtained by contacting him on 028 40624849 as soon as possible, especially if you want the calendars as they are selling very fast.