Pipe Band Digest

Celebrations continue as Worlds winners lap up the honours

Portavogie Pipe Band pictured with their array of trophies at a celebratory dinner in the village

SEVEN weeks on, the Worlds celebrations are continuing for the north's winning bands . . . and why not!

A number of Councils have already hosted events to recognise the honour pipers and drummers have brought distinction to their districts, and a number of other local authorities are known have plans in motion to hold civic receptions.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Council mayor Thomas Hogg laid on a reception for members and friends of Major Sinclair Memorial in Ballyclare, who pulled off one of the biggest shocks of the day in Glasgow in August by clinching the grade 4A world crown.

Named after Major John Maynard Sinclair, the Ulster Unionist finance minister who lost his life in the Princess Victoria ferry disaster in 1953, the band, under pipe major John Fittis, have subsequently been promoted to grade 3B.

The band, meanwhile, will feature on the bill on October 24 when the Drumlough band in Rathfriland host their annual concert, also featuring Craig Munro of the world-renowned Red Hot Chilli Pipers.

Elsewhere, grade 4B world champions Portavogie hosted a celebratory dinner in the village's community centre to thank to the band's sponsors and supporters . . . and it was no surprise that a starter of fresh Portavogie prawns was on the menu.

A cake specially made for the historic occasion was ceremoniously cut by pipe major Malcolm Wallace and drum sergeant Winston Murdock, and guests included RSPBA officials Kenny Crothers and Arlene Graham along with councillors Nigel Edmund and Robert Adair and Strangford MP Jim Shannon.

The band, which featured in the prizes in every contest it entered in 2015 (they also won the Ulster, All-Ireland and Champion of Champions titles), entertained their guests to a selection of tunes and a piping duet by brothers Jordan and Jonathan Gibson.

The celebrations continued on Tuesday past when Strangford MLA Michelle McIlveen hosted a reception for the band at Stormont - and they've also been promised a civic reception by Ards and North Down Council on a date yet to be confirmed.

Portavogie pipe band was only reformed two and a half years ago by Sam Thompson and Andrew Drysdale after being absent from the competition scene for 50 years.

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