Well-known piping figures receive New Year honour

Pipe Bands by Mervyn McConnell

TWO of the most popular and well-known figures in piping were honoured last week in the New Year Honours list by the Queen.

Receiving the MBE were Councillor Wilfred McFadden, former Mayor of Banbridge District Council, and Councillor Tom Nicholas, Mayor of Ballymena. Both these men were honoured for their services to local government.

Wilfred, who was a piper with Banbridge Pipe Band, is the President of the Co. Down section of the Northern Ireland branch of the RSPBA and is a well recognised figure and attendee at all local pipe band events.

He has had a long distinguished career in local government spanning 34 years and is still a member of Banbridge Council.

Tommy Nichol is the President of the Co. Antrim section of the Northern Ireland branch of the RSPPA and is also the President of Grade 2 Seven Towers Pipe hand from Ballymena. He is a keen supporter of the band and travels to all the local and major championships with them.

He has enjoyed the success of Seven Towers these last two seasons when they won the world pipe band championships and gained promotion up the ranks to Grade 2 for 2006.

He is one of the men who were instrumental in securing a major championship event for Ballymena in 2007 and will be to the forefront in all the planning and preparation for such an event.

Another man who also received the MBE last weekend is George Holmes, the deputy chief executive of the Ulster-Scots Agency. The agency promotes understanding of the Ulster-Scots tradition in language, literature music and dance.

George is an authority on traditional music and instruments and is well known for his work through the medium of music.

Grade 1 Ballycoan Pipe band are hosting a concert on Saturday January 21 at 8pm in the Lagan Valley Island Centre in Lisburn.

Billed as a 'Scottish & Irish Cultural Experience of Music, Song and Dance' it will include Scottish and Irish dance, Folk Groups, Singers and, of course, Ballycoan Pipe Band.

Ballycoan's most successful year had to be in 2002 when they were Ulster, All Ireland, British, Scottish, Cowal, European and World champions in Grade 2. They were also crowned Champion of Champions in Northern Ireland and Supreme Champion of Champions of the World.

They compete under the leadership of Pipe Major Alfie Rea and Leading Tip B. Megoran.

Belvoir Parish Drum Majors will be resuming their classes every Saturday commencing January 7 from 2pm to 4pm in Belvoir Parish Church Hall. Their Annual Display and Presentation of Certificates will be held on Friday March 24 at 8pm. Further details on all these events can be obtained by telephoning Ronnie Davidson on 9029 8837 or mobile 077341 51494.

'A Touch of Tartan' is now back on BBC Radio Ulster every Sunday at 2pm for a new series. It is hosted by the popular and well-known person of Tommy Millar, no stranger to pipe band enthusiasts everywhere.

Some of the best bands in Grade 1 and Grade 2, from both the South and North of Ireland, will be appearing. They will include St. Laurence O'Toole, Cullybackey, Ballycoan, Killeen Ravara, Ballinderry Bridge and Field Marshal Montgomery

The show will be repeated every Wednesday after the7pm news.

Ulster Star