It was a night of musical entertainment last Friday as the Central Band of the RAF staged a performance at Downshire School.
The event, organised by the Carrick branch of the RAF Assocaition, was part of a Schools Tour by the talented group and raised £2500 for the Wings Appeal.
Wing Commander Noel Williams, Carrickfergus RAFA branch Wings Appeal organiser, said: “I was so pleased that the Central Band took time out to visit us in Carrickfergus again whilst on a Schools Tour of Northern Ireland.
“It was of course helpful that the Director of Music was Carrickfergus-born Flight Lieutenant Richard Murray, who lived in Downshire prior to joining the RAF. He was also a former pupil at Downshire School so it was a return to meet one of his music teachers, Mr Joe Bingham. Richard also took the opportunity to present Mrs Jackie Stewart, the Principal of Downshire School, with a Central Band plaque, which will, I have no doubt, take pride of place in a prominent location within the school.
“The Band’s principal singer, Corporal Matt Walker, had the crowd singing in the aisles when he pitted the left and right sides of the audience against each other; one singing ‘Its a long way to Tipperary’, whilst the other side simultaneously sang ‘Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag’, from the cue cards held up by other members of the band.”
The programme had something for everyone, with the usual selection of individual virtuoso performances to foot-tapping military numbers such as the Dambuster’s March and the RAF March Past.
The performance also included a wonderful Queen melody, the Londonderry Air and Lawrence of Arabia.
Maureen Irwin MBE, RAFA branch welfare officer said: “This wonderful concert was a real treat for everyone and it has generated much needed funds for our welfare work with ex-servicemen and women in Carrickfergus and its outlying areas.
“I can’t thank attendees and the Central Band enough for what they have done for us; enabling us to raise £2,500 on the night”.
Wg Cdr Williams added:“I want to thank the head teacher of Downshire, Jackie Stewart, for allowing us to stage the concert there, head of Music, Joe Bingham and caretaker, John Lyle, for his work on the day laying out the Assembly Hall and for clearing up after us all. I can’t wait to get the men and women of the RAF bands back in Carrickfergus.”
For photos from the event, see pages 46 and 47.