A number of flute bands from Ballymena had the honour of parading in front of thousands of people who lined the streets of London to watch the recent Lord Mayor’s Show and People's Procession as part of the Remembrance Parade.
Ballymena and Harryville Young Conquerors (John Hinchey, Jim Nixon, Uel Faulkner, James Mathewson and Arnold Kenny), Sir George White Memorial (Stephen Wharry), Kellswater (Andrew Gamble) and Castlegore Amateur Flute Band (Matthew Warwick), were among twelve bands from Northern Ireland who formed the massed band and took part in the events.
As members of the Flute Band Association of Northern Ireland, the well respected parading and concert ensembles have many World Championship titles between them.
A first for Northern Ireland the massed flute band participated in the annual Lord Mayor's Show on November 10 and the main Remembrance Sunday Parade in Whitehall, on November 11 when they joined with 10,000 members of the public to take part in the People’s Procession past the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
Jim Nixon of Ballymena and Harryville Young Conquerors Flute Band said it was a “privilege” to play a part in both events.
He said: “We were very well received by the public in London and we had perfect weather for parading. It was a great advertisement for both Northern Ireland and the association.
“We were watched by thousands of people as we paraded in the Lord Mayor's Show from the Mansion House to the Royal Courts of Justice via St Paul’s Cathedral and back to the Mansion House.
“We were number 108 of 148 in the procession and a Royal Signal Corp Captain directed us throughout the day. It was a wonderful opportunity to take part and there was great camaraderie within the group.”
The next day the band joined 10,000 members of the public to take part in the People’s Procession past the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
The procession, a nation’s thank you to World War One soldiers, marked the Centenary of the Armistice and was made up of descendants, family members and members of the public who won a ticket to the event in a ballot.
On the day the band paraded from Admiralty Arch, stopping at the Cenotaph, before moving on to Birdcage Walk and past Buckingham Palace.
Jim said: “It was a very emotional event and the band members were privileged and proud to be part of it. It was particularly special as it marked 100 years since the end of World War One.”
Jim explained that the band had a number of practice sessions to prepare them for the event.
Their last practice took place at Ballee Playing Fields in Ballymena on Sunday, November 4.
“We were able to secure the head offices of the Ulster Scots Agency and Ballee Playing Fields for practice thanks to Matthew Warrick,” Jim concluded.
The other flute bands from Northern Ireland who took part were Ballygowan, Ballylone, Orangefield (Kilkeel), Churchill, Ballykeel Conservatives, Ballywalter, Ballywillan and Corcrain.