Portrush contest to provide a fitting finale to season

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The curtain will be brought down on another competition season this afternoon with the annual North West Pipe Band Championships at Portrush.

The Recreation Grounds at Ramore Head offers one of the most scenic venues for a competition and always attracts a bumper entry of bands and drum majors along with a huge crowd of spectators.

As ever this final contest of the season will see the announcement of the Champion of Champions prizes. In some grades there is lots to play for while others are already secured.

Cullybackey have tied up the band and drumming awards for grade one. In grade 2 Bleary & District have the band prize in the bag but a PSNI win in the drumming could see them claim that title.

With Annsborough not attending today it means Closkelt are the Champion of Champions for 3a with Ballybriest scooping the drumming award. In grade 3b it looks like an Upper Crossgare double. They have the drumming in the bag and even if Colmcille win the grade Upper Crossgare will lift the title courtesy of their Ulster championship victory.

Marlacoo & District will be lifting an awards double in grade 4a while Portavogie will match that feat in grade 4b.

The Champion of Champion drum majors titles will go to Lauren Hanna in the adult section and Lana Gibson in the juniors. Either Lauren Abraham or Zoe McDowell could yet lift the juvenile award and the novice title could go to either Kathy Hunter or Abigail Wenlock.

The adjudicators for today’s competition are as follows: John McCarlie, Colin Moffett, Sam Young and Willie Garrett on piping; Sandy Steel and John Black looking after the drumming with Joe Noble and Alan Ronaldson on ensemble.

One the highlights of the visit to Portrush is the street parade; however this year some changes have been brought into effect largely due to health and safety concerns.

A decision has been taken in conjunction with the PSNI that every other band on the street parade will be diverted into Causeway Street in order to avoid bottlenecks and congestion at the end of the parade in Eglinton Street. Bands that are diverted will be required to disperse prior to Victoria Street where the police diversion for traffic will be in place. Stewards will be on duty along with PSNI Officers so please follow their directions.

Drum Majors please note that maces are not permitted to be thrown whilst on the street parade.

Well done to our World Champion bands and drum majors.

Annsborough lifted the title in grade 3a, Colmcille were the winners in grade 3b, Major Sinclair in 4a and Portavogie in grade 4b. Also claiming the top prizes were drum majors Brian Wilson and Jamie Cupples.

It was also a great day for local drum corps with Bleary & District, Annsborough, Marlacoo & District and McDonald Memorial winning in their respective grades.

The winning bands and drum majors will be recognised today where they have the honour of parading separately into the finale.

The Cairncastle Ulster Scots August Soiree will be held on Wednesday 26th August in the Halfway House Hotel, Ballygally at 8pm.

Special guests are Susan Bates from Ballyclare playing Irish harp, Davy Sloan from Ballymena playing guitar and singing, a duet comprising Rea Shiels from Rasharkin playing the digital piano and Gary Dempsey from Kilrea playing the bagpipes, along with a performance from local band The Grouse Beaters.

There will be plenty of entertainment to suit all tastes and everyone is welcome including anyone who plays a musical instrument or sings.

Admission is £5. For information contact 07810 294 638.