Big thank you from

Soloists defy the poor weather at Highland Games  

Pipe Bands by Mervyn McConnell

THE Newtownstewart Highland Games held their 4th annual outdoor solo piping and the 1st outdoor solo drumming championship last Saturday.

In spite of poor weather conditions a large crowd of people attended the Gathering.

After a parade of the town by pipe bands, the games were officially opened by Lord Laird of Artigarvan, Chieftain of the Day.

The Open Drumming competition, which was judged by the Rev. Frank Gibson, was won by Andrew Scullion followed by Alastair Hopper and Chris McNicholl. The Juvenile section was won by Chris McNicholl and the junior by Alastair Hopper.

In the solo piping section, judged by Norman Dodds, the winner of the March Strathspey and Reel for the third time was Robert Watt. William Evans, Alan Tully and Lyndsey McNicholl made up the other prizewinners.

Alan Tully was the victor in the Open Hornpipe and jig followed by Robert Watt, Lyndsey McNicholl and Glen Cupples. Best junior was William Evans.

First in the Piobaireachd went to Robert Watt, with runner up Alan Tully, 3rd place William Evans and Lyndsey McNicholl won the final 4th placing.

Marching and Deportment went to Killen Pipe band who are the 2002 Grade 4B world champions with Tullywhister taking the runner up place.

The Drum Major display was led by Senior World Champions Alastair Patterson and Ian Scott. Rachel Corr and Alistair Cooke also took part.

The Northern Ireland Branch of the RSPBA will hold a meeting on Saturday 28 September at 2pm in the Bridge Community Centre Lisburn.

Any band having a change or alteration to any rule, Notice of Motion or recommendations, should forward these to secretary Lorraine McVeigh, in writing, before this date.

The All Ireland Solos will take place on Saturday 21 September in Newry High School. This is always a very entertaining day of piping and drumming when our young up and coming players compete to be Ireland's best.

Bready Pipes and Drums along with the Ulster-Scots Association and Strabane District Cultural association will be presenting 'An Ulster-Scots Extravaganza' at the Waterside Theatre, Londonderry on the 3 and 4 October.

Guests at the concert will be The Alexander Brothers from Scotland, Fiddler Adam, Joe Cauley (Comedian) Sollus Highland Lassie's, Donemana's Western Swingers and the host band. Admission is by ticket only and cost £6.50. Contact number is 028 71 841636.

The date for your diary for this year's world solo drumming championships is Saturday 26 October.

These will take place at Bathgate Academy and will be sponsored by Rathfriland man Sam Hodgen and Andante Percussion drums.

Once again there will be a strong challenge from Andrew Scullion, Leading Tip with the Grade One world pipe band champions - Field Marshal Montgomery.

Jim Kilpatrick, the 2001 world solo drumming champion, will be defending his title.

Before that though Jim will make a guest appearance at the 'Drum til you Drop' weekend to be held in Upperlands on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 September from l0am-5pm.

Congratulations are sent from Canada from an 'old' friend of piping and drumming in Northern Ireland. Stanley McBride, who now lives in Burnaby, Vancouver, and follows all the piping news with great interest in the Ulster Star, was delighted to hear that his old band Ballycoan had won the Grade 2 world championships.

Stanley writes: "Congratulations from Vancouver to all the Irish bands on a great year in the contest season. Ireland has many great bands, and none greater than Field Marshal Montgomery who won the Grade 1 championships. And Ballycoan - what a year for them.

"A wonderful day for Pipe Major Alfie Rea and his father Brian Rea who have both worked so hard all these years. They must surely be proud men, and I wish them all the best next year in Grade 1."

Ulster Star