The Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association Northern Ireland Branch (RSPBANI) held a competition to give a young piper and drummer the chance to play on stage with the 78th Fraser Highlanders Pipe Band.
A once in a lifetime opportunity the winning musician would also play with the all-star cast of guest players from the UK and Ireland at the ‘Live back in Ireland 87’ concert at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast on Saturday, February 25.
All Grade One, Grade Two and Grade 3A pipe bands registered with the RSPBANI were invited to nominate one piper and one drummer under the age of 18. A draw to select the winning piper and drummer was held on Friday, February 17 and the winning piper was Jake McConnell (Matt Boyd Memorial Pipe Band) and the winning drummer was Cameron Mitchell (Ballybriest Pipe Band) both live near Cookstown.
Jake and Cameron joined the cast on stage for the opening number and the third set of the show. The two young stars were given two tickets for the show and were provided with a bagpipe chanter and drum sticks to play in the show which they may keep as souvenirs afterwards.
Jake McConnell said: “I was extremely honoured to say the least, the concert had turned out far beyond my expectations and words can not explain how thrilled I was to get to play with some of piping and drumming’s greatest names”.
Cameron Mitchell added: “I was over the moon to be picked to play at the concert and to be given this once in a lifetime opportunity to play alongside so many of the world’s best pipers and drummers”.
Jake, who lives near Cookstown, is a 13-year-old student at Rainey Endowed School, Magherafelt. Jake has been playing bagpipes since he was 11-years-old and made his debut appearance with the band at RSPBANI pipe band contests last year. He was trained by the RSPBANI Vice-president Lowry Ferguson whose son Alan is the band’s pipe major.
Cameron, who lives near Cookstown, is a 17-year-old student at Cookstown High School. Cameron has been a drummer since he was seve- years-old and has been playing with the band at RSPBANI pipe band contests since he was nine years old. He was trained by Gary Smyth and is currently attending the piping and drumming school. Cameron is the son of Arnold Mitchell who was pipe major of the band for 26 years (1990 until 2016).