SAINTFIELD Pipe Band has not only a new date for their competition, but a new venue and a new format.
This should all add up to a superb day's outing for pipe bands and their supporters.
The date is 23rd April, the venue is Saintfield High School and it will be in the format of a full bands contest.
For many years this was a successful mini bands event, the longest running contest of its kind anywhere. It was held in the Church Hall in Ballygowan but falling entries have forced the organisers to rethink and re-plan their competition.
They are taking a leaf out of the successful full bands competition held in Banbridge and organised by Mervyn Herron and the Co. Down section of the RSPBA which will take place one week (30th April) after the Saintfield event.
It is hoped the bands and their followers will support this new and forward thinking plan from Saintfield Pipe band and the day will be the start of a another successful venture for them.
The closing date for entries is 9th April and secretary David Donnan is the man to contact. His telephone number is 07851 290064.
Belvoir Parish Drum Majors held one of their most successful evenings to date last Friday when a packed hall enjoyed a full programme of events organised by secretary Ronnie Davidson and his team.
So impressed was the Mayor of Lisburn, Councillor Cecil Calvert, that he invited the drum majors team to take part in his Mayor's Parade on the 14th May.
Every artist including the Cleland Memorial and the Frank Rainey Pipe Bands, solo pipers and dancers, the drum majors, and the Church of God Girls' Brigade dancers gave splendid performances.
Guests of honour were Lady Faulkner and Lady Carswell Lord Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast who was the special representative on behalf of Buckingham Palace.
At last week's branch meeting of the RSPBA held in Lisburn it was announced that Pipe Major Richard Parkes had resigned from the Music Board in Scotland.
Richard has served for many years as a valuable member of this team, but he wants to spend more of his time with the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band who are the 2004 world Grade 1 champions.
The other member of the music board - Mark Wilson - has suffered a serious illness and is in hospital. He is wished a speedy recovery from all the members of the Northern Ireland branch.
Chairman George Ussher made a special appeal to all band representatives, especially the Grade 4 members, to attend the Annual General Meeting to be held in Glasgow on the 11 / 12th March.
This is a vitally important meeting and a good representation from Northern Ireland is needed. Contact Margaret Montgomery for more details 92621621.
At the recent meeting of the Irish Pipe Band Association it was confirmed that the Malahide competition, which is the first outdoor event of the 2005 season and held on 14th May, has increased their prize money.
Grade One will now take home 1200 Euros for 1st place; 500 for 2nd and 300 for 3rd.
The winner of Grade Two will get 600 Euros; second place 300 and third 200.
Grade Three will divide 850 Euros between them with Grade Four 750 Euros and Grade Five 500 Euros.
This is always a well-supported competition, especially from the Grade One bands, and it gives them their first good run out before the Scottish Championships on 21st May in Dunbarton in Scotland.
The Seven Towers solo piping and drumming competition will take place on Saturday , 5th March in Ballee Community High School, Ballymena starting at 12 o'clock.
There are sections for novice and advanced practise chanter and drum pad; juvenile piping and drumming for under 15 and for 1517 years old; junior piping and drumming; intermediate and senior piping and drumming.
The piping adjudicators are Harry Stevenson and Jimmy Young with Barry Wilson and Neil Ussher for drumming.
The "Officials and Programme of Events" books for 2005 are now available from Walter McKibben. This year the book has been produced in colour and is very informative and attractive.
He also has RSPBA ties with crest and crown and RSPBA Lapel badges for sale. Walter can be contacted on 9061 0198 or mobile 07743 477488.
Free colourful "flyers" giving all the dates for the 2005 pipe band season are now also available for distribution to all travel agents hotels tourist centres etc.
This is a handy compact reminder of all the events taking place in the North and South of Ireland and in Scotland.
Contact Mervyn Herron for more details on 4062 4849, mobile 077 0268 1189.