A YOUNG Banbridge drummer has just returned home triumphant from the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow - but she isn’t celebrating just yet.
Sarah McCullough (24) from Newry Road, plays the tenor drum with the Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band from Lisburn, which won the competition for the second year in a row at the weekend showcase event at Glasgow Green.
But the musician and keen athlete, while delighted with the band’s success, says there is one more competition to get through before the champagne can really be popped: “There is still more practising to do for the Cowal Championships in Dundoon outside Glasgow at the end of August,” she says, “and, if we win that, we will be ‘Champions of Champions’ which would be the icing on the cake.”
Sarah has been playing the tenor drum with the award-winning band for seven years and previously played with Banbridge Pipe Band after being introduced to piping by her grandfather and uncles when she was a child.
“My grandfather was a pipe major with McNeillstown Pipe Band in Ballymena and my uncles were involved with the pipes. Me playing drums has been a first in the family, but my younger sister, Rachael, is continuing the tradition, playing tenor drum for Aughintober Pipe Band in Castlecaulfield,” she explains.
To be crowned champions in Glasgow, Sarah and fellow members of Field Marshal Montgomery Band competed against a number of other top-ranked bands in the top Grade One category, playing a number of tunes in different time signatures followed by a medley of pieces.
“There was a bit of waiting around biting our fingernails while the judges came to a decision - but it was worth the wait in the end. There were about 11 or 12 bands in our section, but over 200 bands were in the competition altogether, so the atmosphere was buzzing.”
To reach the high standard required, Sarah practises several times a week, but when she’s not banging on her drum she is out on the sports field, helping coach netball, dance and leprechaun rugby.
“I love being part of the band scene because it has allowed me to make friends with people all over the world, but I also really like sport and have just finished a degree at Stranmillis in Health and Leisure Studies,” Sarah adds. “I am hoping to continue with my studies with a PCGE so I can become a PE teacher. Then, the hard work will be getting a job.”