Homecoming for RAF man at Belfast Tattoo

Stephen Chapman (Senior Drum Major) pictured heading up the massed pipe bands at the 2017 Belfast Tattoo.  Included (left in front row is Lauren Hanna from Dromore).
Stephen Chapman (Senior Drum Major) pictured heading up the massed pipe bands at the 2017 Belfast Tattoo. Included (left in front row is Lauren Hanna from Dromore).

The final performance of the Belfast Tattoo takes place tonight and one man at the centre of the spectacle is about to bid Northern Ireland a fond farewell for a second time.

In 1997 Richard Murray left the Province to join the Royal Air Force Music Services.

Flight Lieutenant Richard Murray BMus (Hons) LRSM LLCM RAF

Flight Lieutenant Richard Murray BMus (Hons) LRSM LLCM RAF

Twenty years later – now a flight lieutenant and director of music with The Central Band of the RAF – the Carrickfergus native has returned to these shores to help stage the SSE Arena event.

He told the News Letter: “It’s lovely to be back, not only to direct and be part of the Belfast Tattoo, but also to be able to showcase one of the top military bands in the UK in Belfast.”

Mr Murray has brought his three young daughters with him for the three-night run, affording his wife some time to herself back in England.

He said: “These last few days have been a mix between catching up with friends and family, though the Belfast Tattoo are keeping me very busy.”

Mr Murray believes the Belfast crowds will be impressed with the show.

He said: “It’s been going very well when you think about the very short period of time they have to get all the local, national and international acts together and the logistics of the sound and lighting package that goes with it. For just two days’ rehearsal it’s come up to speed brilliantly.”

Mr Murray began playing the flute and piano under the guidance of the music staff at Downshire School, Carrickfergus and Colin Irvine at Belfast High School. He studied music at the University of Ulster, during which time he was awarded a scholarship from the Arts Council for Northern Ireland which he used to attend master classes with Sir James Galway.

As a member of the RAF Music Service he has travelled, performed and recorded worldwide, from Saudi Arabia to Bosnia-Herzegovina and the BBC.

The final concert of the Belfast Tattoo includes performers from Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Italy and Canada as well as the UK.