Big thank you from

FlyBe's new air services get a very special musical send off
from Banbridge Pipe Band 

Pipe Bands by Mervyn McConnell

FlyBE's new services from Belfast City to Edinburgh and Glasgow were given a unique send off recently by Banbridge Pipe Band playing the premier of a tune specifically commissioned by the airline.

The 'FlyBE March' was created by accomplished composer Ian Lyons, originally from Banbridge, but now living in Australia.

Andrea Hayes, FlyBE's General Manager - Market Development said: "We wanted to do something really special to celebrate the new Scottish routes and approached Banbridge Pipe Band's Chairman, Gary McDonald, to ask if the band would play at the airport.

"He went one better and contacted his former colleague Ian in Melbourne and asked him to compose an original tune for the occasion. We were delighted with the result, a mixture of slow air and jig which perfectly complements an aircraft's movement on the runway and take off."

Gary is equally pleased with the outcome. "This is a first for the band and we've really enjoyed rehearsing the piece and playing in the unusual airport setting. Having performed at numerous world championships, the opening ceremony of the 2003 Special Olympics and countless tattoos in Ireland and Scotland; we can certainly say, have bag-pipes, will travel."

It is sad to hear that the Gortaclare Mini bands event due to take place on May 1 is cancelled. Unfortunately they are the latest casualties of the declining support for mini bands in the province.

The Indoor full bands competition will take place tomorrow, Saturday, April 24, in Banbridge High School. This is a unique competition and is the only one of its kind in Ireland.

There are 46 bands entered for this event. Seven in Grade 2; eleven in Grade 3A; six in Grade 313; fifteen in Grade 4A and seven in 4B. Because of the number of entries the competition will commence at 11.30am.

For those travelling to the Banbridge contest, Mervyn Herron, contest secretary, has promised that there will be excellent catering facilities provided in the school canteen.

There is still time to obtain tickets for the St Laurence O'Toole's band contest, 'Dawning of the Day', which will take place in the Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle, on Saturday, May 8. Contact Gary McDonald at 4602 6543 or any member of Banbridge Pipe Band.

The Malahide Festival of Piping and Drumming will be held on Saturday, May 15 in the beautiful Malahide Castle in the Republic of Ireland. Please note that due to the postal strike in the Republic, entries for Malahide can be sent to Mervyn Herron, Contest Secretary, 9 Ballydown Meadows, Castlewellan Road, Banbridge, BT32 4QX. Telephone: 4062 4849. Malahide Secretary - Tony Markey - can be contacted by phone 00353 8461968.

Tommy Miller's 'Pipes and Drums' is back on BBC Northern Ireland's Radio Ulster every Sunday at 2pm and Thursday at 7pm.

Last week he featured music from Shorts & Dykehead, the reigning world champions, Field Marshal Montgomery, Champion of Champions for 2003 and the Simon Fraser University Pipe Band from Vancouver, Canada. Tommy also includes songs and folk music from around the province.

Ulster Star