THE Northern Ireland Piping and Drumming School held their 25th annual presentation of certificates last week in the Island Centre in Lisburn. The School Director, Sam Bailie, welcomed everyone including special guests Andrew Wright, President of the Piobaireachd Society, and George Ussher, the Northern Ireland Chairman and RSPBA President.
Many of the 92 pupils received honours in their chosen grades and thanks were given to those who instructed them - Colin Brown, Freddy Noade, Sharon Noade, Brian Rea, Terry Smyth, and to Norman and Vickie Cochrane at Magee Campus of the University of Ulster.
In his report Sam Bailie said that students had been drawn from all over Northern Ireland and beyond, including one who came to the school for one year from New Zealand.
In total, during its 25 years, the school has had over 2,000 students from all backgrounds, gender and age ranges, and the school's material is taught all around the world.
Indeed this year they have been asked for help by the Australian Pipe Band Association and many have come from England to assess the strength of the work and to endeavour to incorporate it into their education programme.
The Northern Ireland Piping and Drumming School has also been recognised as a top class educational institution and this has been borne out by the fact the director received a personal invitation to attend a reception hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the achievements of the British Music Industry.
To mark the 25th anniversary of the school a competition was organised to find a tune to commentate the event. This was won by William Garrett who gave a recital of his winning composition.
The most enjoyable evening finished with supper and a musical programme by the newly formed Ulster Youth Ensemble who received a standing ovation from everyone present.
The Malahide Festival of Piping and Drumming 2005 took place last Saturday at Malahide Castle outside Dublin on a gorgeous sunny day.
The lovely weather added to the fun attractions for the family and especially to the spectacle of the pipe bands with over 50 bands challenging for top honours and very generous prize money.
Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band with Pipe Major Richard Parkes made it eight in a row when they lifted the championship trophy in Grade One. They swept aside all other contenders with a determination that this Malahide trophy belongs only to them.
Other winners were Ravara in Grade 2; Seven Towers in Grade 3; Aughintober in 4A and Cullybackey in 4B.
It was a very well organised competition and thanks must go to the compilers of the Northern Ireland Branch for getting the results out in good time.
The Scottish Pipe Band Championships will take place on Saturday 21st May with the first of this year's five major championships.
It will take place in Levengrove Park Dumbarton where a record entry of bands will battle it out for supremacy.
The last competition for May will be the Co. Fermanagh Championships where 47 bands are entered in all six grades.
Eden Pipe band is expected to be competing at Enniskillen in Grade 2 and it will be good to see them back in the competition arena after a long absence.
Grade 1. 1st Field Marshal Montgomery. 2nd Scottish Power (also best drums). 3rd St. Laurence O'Toole.
Grade 2. 1st Ravara. 2nd Cullybackey (also best drums). 3rd Annsborough.
Grade 3. 1st Seven Towers. 2nd Battlehill. 3rd Black1 Raven. Best drums - New Ross.
Grade 4A. 1st Aughintober. 2nd Sgt Walker Memorial. 3rd Gransha(also best drums).
Grade 4B. 1st Cullybackey. 2nd Cleland Memorial. 3rd Antrim. Best Drums - Thomas Davis Memorial
Drum Majors. Novice Juvenile. 1st Kiera Wilson. 2nd Lauren Abaham. 3rd Lauren Muldrew.
Junior. 1st Samantha Gordon. 2nd Caroline Clydesdale. 3rd Linzi Hamilton.
Juvenile. 1st Donna Gillespie. 2nd Ryan Ferry. 3rd Alicia Dickson.
Senior. 1st Gloria Patterson. 2nd Andrea McKeown. 3rd Brian Wilson.