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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland



10 December 2018

2018 has proved to be another busy year for The Regimental Band. Based in Kinnegar, Co Down, the band is held in very high regard throughout military music circles, consistently performing to an exceptionally high standard.  What makes this particularly notable is that with the exception of one PSI, the band consists entirely of Army Reservists, all of whom have demanding, full time civilian jobs (including teachers, engineers, civil servants, transport managers and bank officials to name but a few).  So to be held in such high regard by Kneller Hall and military music, fulfilling a significant number of engagements throughout the year, shows a huge level of dedication and commitment from the members of the band, as well as continued support from their families.  

The band rehearses only once a week and often completes up to three or four engagements per week. Throughout the year the band has continued to provide musical support across the Province, performing ceremonial duties, supporting recruitment drives as well as completing a number of high profile events.

During the year the band has continued to promote both The Royal Irish Regiment and The Army at various events, including Armed Forces Days, Army Recruitment days, as well as numerous Passing Out Parades for new recruits.  In addition, the band continued to support the ABF by performing at a number of fundraising concerts, as well as providing musical support for numerous retreats and mess functions across the Province, including in Thiepval Barracks, Palace Barracks, Ballykinler and Aldergrove.

This year saw the 50th anniversary of the formation of The Royal Irish Rangers.  To commemorate this significant year the Band took part in a number of events across the Province.  A Beating Retreat was hosted by Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council and was attended by MLAs, council officials, veterans of the Regiment and President of The Rangers Association, General Sir Roger Wheeler as well as Lieutenant General Sir Phillip Trousdell.  “It is vitally important to keep the wonderful tradition of Beating Retreat alive and I was proud to be involved in this event remembering the Royal Irish Rangers,” said Sir Roger. The following day was Old Soldiers’ Day, in Palace Barracks, which was attended by over 400 hundred veterans and again commemorated the 50th anniversary of The Rangers.

In March, the Band travelled to Ternhill for the St Patrick’s Day Service at Clive Barracks, joining with 1st Battalion Pipes and Drums for the ceremony.  For those of you who remember the rather cold winter we have had this year, it is safe to say that with a wind chill of lower than minus six degrees, and with the snow beginning to fall as the Shamrock was presented to the troops, this was one of the coldest parades I have ever completed.

Throughout the year the Band have travelled across Ireland, supporting various military associations.  This has included a concert in Newtownstewart in aid of The Royal Irish Benevolent Fund, as well as a parade and church service in Clogher for The Ulster Defence Regiment Association.  In July, the Band travelled to Islandbridge, Dublin, playing alongside The 2 Brigade Band, Defence Forces Ireland at The Royal British Legion annual Ceremony of Remembrance.  In September the Band had the pleasure of working with the South African Royal Irish Pipes and Drums.  The bands performed a joint Beat Retreat in Thiepval Barracks and travelled to Dublin to perform another Retreat in the grounds of Trinity College.

2018 was a special year for the whole Regiment, with the presentation of new colours to both 1st and 2nd Battalions on 22nd September.  The Band joined with The Pipes and Drums of both 1st and 2nd Battalions to provide musical support for this significant occasion, which was attended by HRH The Duke of York, Colonel in Chief of The Regiment.  The event on Titanic slipways was the first time that a Colours Parade has been open to the public in Northern Ireland, who were treated to a display of military tradition. 

2018 also marked the end of World War 1 and the Band were involved in a number of events to mark this significant centenary.  As they do each year the Band were honoured to support the Act of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in Belfast, The Royal Irish Regiment Service of Remembrance in St Anne’s Cathedral, The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance in the Waterfront Hall, as well as a service in St Anne’s Cathedral on the afternoon of 11th November to remember this day and give thanks for peace (a similar service was held at the same time in each region of the UK).  The Band also supported Ballymena Council at the rededication of their war memorial in October (when a number of additional names of those who had served in the Great War were unveiled).

For their annual camp this year, the band travelled to Kneller Hall in London, the home of The Royal School of Army Music.  Every year Kneller Hall hosts a summer season of concerts at the open-air bandstand in the grounds.  The Band was joined for The Last Night of the Proms concert on the stage by musicians from the Kneller Hall Student Band and members of The Band of The Coldstream Guards.  The concert, as usual, was a huge success with the audience with  much flag waving and fireworks throughout performances of Jerusalem, Rule Britannia and the Hornpipe.

Clearly 2018 has been yet another very busy and successful year for The Band.  It remains a tremendous privilege to play such a significant part in so many key events throughout the year. Together the band look forward to many more years ahead.

Cpl CS Beattie