Pipe bands: Field Marshal Montgomery start season in style

The 2018 RSPBA NI Branch contest season got under way on Saturday when the Ards and North Down Pipe Band Championships took place at the Castle Grounds in Bangor.

There was an entry of 42 bands and 46 drum majors with many using this outing as preparation for next weekend’s first RSPBA major competition which takes place in Paisley, Scotland.

While there were a few withdrawals it did not affect what was a wonderful day in the sun which was enjoyed by a large crowd.

The attendance by four Grade 1 bands most certainly was a big hit with the spectators with many of them being able to observe them tuning up and witness the effort that goes in to ensuring they play to such a high standard.

Drum Major winners (from left) Novice Grade  Carys Graham (Upper Crossgare); Junior Grade  Kathy Hunter (Manorcunningham); Juvenile Grade  Jamie Cupples (Makenzie Caledonian); Adult Grade  Lauren Hanna (Lomond & Clyde Pipe Band) at Bangor on Saturday. Included are Winston Pinkerton, RSPBANI president (left) and chieftain of the day, councillor Robert Adair, Mayor of Ards and North Down Council

The performances were all very entertaining and it was the Field Marshal Montgomery that swept the boards with a masterful showing which certainly won favour with all four adjudicators as much as the spectators.

Grade 2 will be the one to watch locally this year and it was Closkelt who had a narrow victory over Ravara whose drum corps under new leading drummer Matthew Shaw got off to a winning start.

Thiepval Memorial won 3A with the drumming prize going to Drumlough. Battlehill had a comprehensive win in 3B and also took the drum corps prize.

McNeillstown also did the double in 4A while Bessbrook Crimson Arrow took the honours in 4B from Broughshane & District and Gransha who won the drumming.

The drum major winners were Lauren Hanna (Adult), Jamie Cupples (Juvenile), Kathy Hunter (Junior) and Carys Graham (Novice Juvenile) and it was refreshing to see a number of those who had gone up an age group from last season get into the prize list in the higher section.

The grand finale took place at 4.30pm with the chieftain of the day, the Mayor of Ards and North Down, councillor Robert Adair, taking the salute, congratulating the bands and drum majors on a great turn out and presenting the prizes.

This was a well-run competition which was a credit to the organisational ability of the local RSPBA NI Branch assisted by staff from the local council.

Next weekend nine bands and 19 drum majors will travel to Paisley to take part in the British Championships. The next local contest is the Co Fermanagh Championships at the Broadmeadow in Enniskillen on May 27.


Grade 1: 1st Field Marshal Montgomery (also Best Pipes, Pipes and Bass Section); 2nd St Laurence O’Toole; 3rd Vale of Atholl; 4th PSNI (also Best M&D).

Grade 2: 1st Closkelt (also Best Pipes); 2nd Ravara (Best Drums)3rd Manorcunningham (also Best Bass Section & M&D); 4th Marlacoo & District.

Grade 3A: 1st Thiepval Memorial (joint Best Pipes); 2nd Marlacoo & District); 3rd Matt Boyd Memorial (joint Best Pipes); 4th Quinn Memorial. Best Drums: Drumlough. Best Bass Section: Upper Crossgare.

Grade 3B: 1st Battlehill (also Best Pipes and Drums); 2nd St Mary’s Derrytrasna; 3rd Clogher & District; 4th Tullylagan (also Best Bass Section). Best M&D Raffrey.

Grade 4A: 1st McNeillstown (also Best Drums); 2nd Raphoe Ulster Scots (also Best Pipes & Bass Section), 3rd Kildoag, 4th McDonald Memorial.

Grade 4B: 1st Bessbrook Crimson Arrow (also Best Pipes); 2nd Broughshane & District; 3rd Gransha (also Best Drums & Bass Section); 4th Wicklow. Best M&D Kirkistown.

Drum Majors

Senior: 1st Lauren Hanna; 2nd Andrea McKeown; 3rd Emma Barr; 4th Jason Price; 5th Vicki Singer.

Juvenile: 1st Jamie Cupples; 2nd Kara Gilmore; 3rd Kathryn McKeown; 4th Rachel Lowry; 5th Jason Nicholl.

Junior: 1st Kathy Hunter; 2nd Abigail Wenlock; 3rd Zara Cupples; 4th Leann Crooks; 5th Charlotte Ruddock.

Novice: 1st Carys Graham; 2nd Louise Smiton; 3rd Jamie-Lee Wilson; 4th Mia Buckley; 5th Katie Clarke.