Big thank you from

March date for solo contest  

THE first of the 2008 solo competitions will be the Seven Towers Co. Antrim solos which will take place at Bailee High School on Saturday March 1.

Entry forms have been sent out, but if anyone else would like to enter, and has not received an entry form, then they can contact the new Co. Antrim secretary Lorraine McVeigh, 8 Killaire Close, Carnalea, Bangor BT19 1FW telephone 02891466028 email:

Lorraine is a familiar figure within pipe band circles and has been involved with the pipe band movement for 20 years both at band and branch level. She was for some years a piper with Leapoughs Pipe band and for about 10 years served as a compiler. She made history when in March 2001 she was overwhelming voted in as the first lady secretary of the Northern Ireland Branch of the RSPBA since its formation in October 1950. She stepped down from this position in 2005 but still retained a great interest in pipe band affairs. Her most recent job within the Northern Ireland branch was as its Public Relations Officer.

The guest adjudicator for the Seven Towers Solos in March will be Major Gavin-Neill MacLeod Stoddart MBE BEM.

Gavin was born in Hamburg, Germany where his father, Major George Stoddart, was stationed as pipe major of the 5th Scottish Airborne Regiment. He received initial instruction from him before going for tuition for some 18 months with Captain John A. MacLennan then director of the Army School of Bagpipe Music at Edinburgh Castle. In 1964 he became a guest piper with the Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band before enlisting as a piper in the Scots Guards in 1966 under Pipe Major Angus MacDonald. In 1979 Gavin was invited to transfer to his father's old regiment, the Royal Highland Fusiliers as Pipe Major. And it was at that time he rapidly piped his way to the highest levels of professional level solo competition. In his very successful competing career he won several major events including the Glenfiddich championships - MSR and Piobaireachd - Gold medal for Piobaireachd, at the Highland Society of London and Braemar Highland Gathering and winner at the Argyllshire gathering and the Northern Meetings both in the March Strathspey and Reel competitions.

He retired from competing in 1989 and was commissioned and appointed Director of Army Bagpipe Music. It was in this role that he became responsible for co-ordinating the massed pipes and drums for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Then in 2003 he took up the position with the National Piping Centre where, working with Pipe Major Jimmy Bands, he helped administer the BA (Scottish Music-Piping) degree.

Gavin is a senior solo adjudicator and is in great demand worldwide as a judge and instructor.


The Officials and Programme of events for the 2008 booklet is now available and can be obtained at the first meeting of the Northern Ireland branch of the RSPBA to be held on Saturday January 26, in Trinity Methodist Church Hall Knockmore Road Lisburn at 2pm.

This is a must have for all pipe band followers, giving not only the dates and venues of all the competitions for the incoming year, but lots of other interesting information as well.

You can also contact Walter McKibben direct to obtain your copy on telephone 9268 8007 or 07795561135.

The Belvoir Drum Majors classes have commenced again after the Christmas break. The classes are held in Belvoir Parish Church Hall every Saturday from 2pm to 4pm. and will run through to their Annual Display and Presentation of Prizes on Friday March 21 at 8pm.

There are 14 pupils attending at this time all under the instruction of Drum Major Kathleen Smyth. Anyone wishing to join the class will be very welcome. Phone secretary Ronnie Davidson for further information.

Ulster Star