Pipe band community laments passing of ‘Ulster’s Tartan Titan’

The late Fred J. Walker. Pic by John Kelly
The late Fred J. Walker. Pic by John Kelly

A service of thanksgiving to celebrate the life of Frederick ‘Fred’ Joseph Walker was held in Carnmoney Presbyterian Church on Thursday, March 24.

The service was conducted by the minister, the Rev John Dickinson. George Hewitt presided at the organ and led the thanksgiving praise that included, ‘I will sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me’.

The piper at the church service was Derek Boyce, a member of Bleary & District Pipe Band. Derek played a tune entitled, ‘President Fred J Walker’ which he composed when he was a member of St Laurence O’Toole Pipe Band; the tune had been presented to Fred at the Ulster Championships in August 2013.

During the service, Fred’s daughter Rosemary Wallace read a personal tribute entitled ‘My Dad’, and his son Neil also recalled happy memories of a loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Neil Wallace (Fred’s grandson), Emily Walker (Fred’s granddaughter) and Victoria Gilmore (Fred’s niece) also gave an emotional tribute.

Among those present at the service were many members of the pipe band community, representatives from the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, Northern Ireland Branch (RSPBANI), representatives of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association from Glasgow and representatives of the Irish Pipe Band Association. All who knew Fred from the pipe band community have expressed their deep sadness at the passing of the immediate Past President of the RSPBANI and acting Life Ambassador. Their thoughts and prayers are with his widow Margaret, children Neil and Rosemary, and the entire family circle.

In December 2001, the RSPBANI hosted a memorable evening in the Belmont Hotel as a tribute to the unique and unparalleled record of Fred Walker (Ulster’s Tartan Titan). During the evening, he was presented with a red ‘This is Your Life’ book compiled by Mervyn Herron and Tommy Millar.

The book detailed Fred’s exemplary long service of over 69 years involvement with pipe bands both as a drummer with his band and as a senior administrator within the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, Northern Ireland Branch.

Having started his playing career as a drummer with Legacurry Pipe Band in the 1940s, Fred went on to become RSPBANI President in 2005 - a post he held for nine years until his retirement in November 2014.

Fred and his wife Margaret set up home in Carnmoney in the late 1950s and became active members of Carnmoney Presbyterian Church.

Mr Walker’s family circle have extended their thanks to everyone who attended the service at Carnmoney Presbyterian Church, and for the many kind words of sympathy and support they have received at this time.

Donations in memory of Fred J. Walker can be sent to: Leukaemia and Lymphoma NI c/o Wiltons Funeral Service.