The Ballyclare-based Major Sinclair Memorial Pipe Band has returned home to Newtownabbey as Grade 4A world champions.
Their success in Scotland at the weekend was the first time the band, formed in 1957, has taken the prestigious title.
In total 30 bands took part in the World Pipe Band Championships, which were held in Glasgow on Saturday, August 15.
The east Antrim band travelled to the competition with 15 playing members and a number of family and friends as support.
“We didn’t expect to win, but we had been putting in a lot of extra practice over the last few weeks,” explained pipe major John Fittis.
“I knew we were capable of winning a prize, as prizes are awarded to the top six places, but I really didn’t expect to be coming home as champions,” he said.
The winning group of band members who secured the title for Major Sinclair Memorial were made up of senior established pipers and drummers, and new members who had not played at the world championships before.
“We had five new members who had not competed in the world championships before, but they handled the situation really well,” John continued.
The championship is arranged in a gruelling format, with the 30 bands being divided into two groups of 15. Theses 15 bands compete against each other in the first heat in front of a group of judges.
The top six bands from each group of 15 go through to the final where they play in front of a new panel of judges.
Going up against bands who had been crowned world champions in the past, not many had given the community orientated band from Ballyclare any real hope of winning.
“No one had given us a chance. I am chuffed to bits for everyone in the band. It is just an amazing achievement,” John added.
John gives special mention to two members who are particularly deserving of praise.
“Gary McClean has stayed loyal to our band throughout the years, and winning the world title is a marvellous reward for that loyalty. We also have a member from Annalong, Peter Chambers who went the extra mile for the band. Peter travels to practice every week, and at the weekend he flew to Glasgow on Saturday morning to take part in the championships and then returned home on Saturday night to his wife who is heavily pregnant,” John said.
The band practice in Torrens Hall in Doagh on Tuesday evenings from 7pm to 10pm and on Wednesday evenings for beginners from 7pm to 9pm, and new members are always welcome. If you can offer your time to teach the pipes or drums the band would also like to hear from you.
John would like to thank the Ulster Scots Agency for the funding and support that they continue to offer, as well as Glenfield Renewables in Ballyclare who have supported the band, and the team at Torrens Hall for their backing.
For more information about Major Sinclair Memorial Pipe Band check out their Facebook page.