A young Ballymoney Army Cadet has made history by becoming the first Northern Ireland piper to win a Cadet Force piping competition, usually won by pipers from Scotland.
Cadet Lance Sergeant (L/Sgt) Karen McAleese, a pupil of Ballymoney High School and a member of the Ballymoney Detachment, travelled to the Cadet Force Pipe and Drumming Centre at Redford Barracks, Edinburgh to compete in the Cadet National Piping and Drumming Competition.
16-year-old Karen has been playing the bagpipes for just over three years under the close eye of Andy Macgregor from the Ulster Scots Agency and she also plays in her local pipe band the Topp of the North, Ballymoney.
Karen wasn’t expecting her name to be called out during the prize giving, as she only went over to see how much she needed to do for the next competition.
It was a great surprise for Karen and her father when her name was announced, coming 1st in the ‘Junior 2/4 March’ category. After composing herself Karen marched out to the front to collect her trophy and medal. She was no sooner back in her place when her name was called out again coming 2nd in the ‘Novice Piobaireachd’ category.
L/Sgt McAleese said: “I cannot believe I was placed in both categories, it was a great honour to go and represent the 1st (NI) Battalion at such an event unfortunately you are not allowed to bring the trophy home with you but you get a medal for each event you are placed in. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me and I will certainly have to work hard to improve for next year as the standard is really high.”
Major Sam Donnell Officer Commanding B Company said “It was a privilege to be in Edinburgh to hear L/Sgt McAleese play such great music, she is a terrific ambassador for the battalion.”