"2005 had been another good year for the Northern Ireland Branch of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association."
This was the comment of George Ussher, Chairman of the Branch, as he looked back on the year past in his letter to the piping fraternity in the 2006 Officials and Programme of Events booklet.
George went on to say that the bands in Northern
Ireland have also enjoyed success in many of the Major
championships, culminating once again with major success at
Glasgow in the World Pipe Band Championships where the bands
from this Branch won several grades.
Drum Majors also distinguished themselves throughout the year winning prizes at every level in the Major Championships.
George also writes that our competitions at home still attract wider and larger audiences and the Branch has sought to capitalise on that by providing a wider scope of family entertainment.
The three Branch competitions this year at Newcastle, Lisburn and Portrush attracted excellent spectator numbers. Television has also added to the wider attraction and the press coverage last year had again been excellent.
Of course all this development has come at a cost to those doing this voluntary work so the Branch has recruited a professional development officer -Mrs Lynsey Ellis. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has granted part of the finance for this position.
Lynsey will be working out of the new Branch Office at 32a Bachelors Walk in Lisburn and this will be open throughout the year for advice and assistance.
The year 2005 has been one of the best and most progressive years in the history of the Branch. In 2006 it is planned to host the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra in an end of season concert and for the first time in it's history the Andante world solo drumming championships will be held in Northern Ireland.
Sam Hodgen from Rathfriland has sponsored these championships, and it is in recognition of his valuable contribution to these solos, that this year, as a token of gratitude to him, the championships will be held in Monkstown Community Centre on October 28.
You can read George's full report in the Officials and Programme of Events book, which is now available. Contact Walter McKibben 62 Larch Grove Dunmurry Belfast BT17 9QF telephone 9061 0198, mobile 07795 561135 to obtain your copy.
This book is a must for all pipe band members and supporters as it contains all the dates for local and major competitions as well as other interesting articles.
Bready & District Ulster Scots will be holding a Highland Gathering in the Waterside Theatre Londonderry on Friday February 24 at 8.00pm. The evening will feature the Tartan Lads (Scotland) Bready Pipe Band, Sollus Highland and Hip Hop Dancers, Fiddler Adam and Strabane High School Choir.
Tickets are available from the Waterside Theatre Box Office 7131 4000 and are priced £7.50 each. For further information please contact James Kee on 7184 1636.
The 78th Fraser Highlanders from Toronto Canada have secured a sponsorship deal with The Scottish Lion, a dealer of Highland wear and piping and drumming supplies based in New Hampshire.
They are part of the Little Scotland group of companies, managed by Innis Campbell, which has retail operations in Nova Scotia and Ontario.
In a statement from Bill Livingstone, Pipe Major of the band, he said: "The band viewed this as a natural fit – two innovative and forward thinking organisations coming together for mutual benefit.
"To say the least, we are very excited about this arrangement and the prospects for the future that will be created because of it."
They will now be known as 'The Scottish Lion-78th Fraser Highlanders'.