‘Small step forward’ for Royal Black marchers on Thirteenth

The Sovereign Grand Master of the Royal Black Preceptory took solace in being able to enjoy the wonderful surroundings of Scarva today, a village normally thronged with people for the annual Thirteenth celebrations.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 5:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 5:18 pm
Members of Scarva's Royal Black Institution preceptory, Sir Knight Alfred Buller Memorial RBP 1000, return to Scarvagh House after laying a wreath at the war memorial in the Co Down village today.
The annual Sham Fight held in the village each July 13th was cancelled for a second year because of the Coronavirus restrictions.
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
Members of Scarva's Royal Black Institution preceptory, Sir Knight Alfred Buller Memorial RBP 1000, return to Scarvagh House after laying a wreath at the war memorial in the Co Down village today. The annual Sham Fight held in the village each July 13th was cancelled for a second year because of the Coronavirus restrictions. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

Rev William Anderson joined with RBP 1000 for a service and wreath-laying event in Scarva, while other preceptories and districts held localised parades throughout Northern Ireland

Talking to the News Letter in Scarva today, Rev Anderson said: “We’ve taken a step forward from last year. It’s a small step but it’s a step forward, at least we’ve been able to mark it in a proper way.

“It was surreal to be in Scarva today with the quietness and the beauty of where the house is situated, just to maybe for once be able to take in the beauty of the surroundings without everything that comes with having 100,000 people about the place.”

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He commented: “I hope and pray that we’ll be back to normal next year.

“This is a way of life for the men of RBP 1000 who dedicate their time to preparing Scarva for the Sham Fight and cleaning up afterwards. It is a huge operation and one that’s been sadly missed for the past two years.”

He added: “Thanks to God’s grace, the vaccine roll-out has created the conditions whereby we are able to hold smaller, localised parades, and our witness for the Reformed Christian faith in towns and villages can continue.

“Yes, it is disappointing that there is no Sham Fight in Scarva, nor is there a procession in Bangor, but I personally am extremely thankful that I could join with Sir Knight Alfred Buller Memorial RBP 1000 for a service and wreath-laying event in Scarva, while other preceptories and districts also held small parades today.”

Meanwhile in Portadown today thousands of people packed the town’s streets for a Thirteenth parade organised by Portadown Royal Black District Chapter No 5.

With Dungannon Silver Band leading the way along with the district officers, the 2,000-strong parade featuring 20 Portadown Royal Black Preceptories made its way from Carleton Street Orange Hall to the war memorial where a wreath-laying ceremony took place, led by the Portadown Ex-Servicemen’s RBP 326.

The Portadown bands were joined by the prize-winning Dunloy Accordion Band from Co Antrim and bands from Lisburn, Keady, Markethill and Loughgall.

In Tandragee, 12 Black preceptories and bands paraded the town, while in Markethill there was a parade of 10 preceptories and bands.

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