THE substantial proceeds of a highly successful concert held in The Braid have been handed over to the Royal Irish Regiment’s Benevolent Fund.
It was back in October of last year that a group of friends of the Royal Irish Regiment, under the banner of Marlagh Educational & Cultural Group, organised the concert with the Band, Pipes & Drums of the Royal Irish Regiment.
The concert, which also had the support of Ballymena Borough Council and a number of local businesses was a complete sell-out.
A few of the soldiers from the first Battalion who had recently returned home from their tour of Afghanistan attended the concert with members of their family and, after being introduced to the audience, received a warm welcome from the packed auditorium.
A spokesperson for the organisers said: “Such was the success of this concert that the group were able to hand over a cheque for the sum of £7,000. To our knowledge no other single such concert has raised this amount and so it was with a degree of pride that the Chairman (Reuben Glover) and Treasurer (Robin Matthews) of the group recently attended a reception at Regimental Headquarters in Palace Barracks to hand over the cheque to the Regimental Secretary of the Royal Irish Regiment, Major Colin Gray.
“After a short tour of RHQ where they were able to view the vehicles which once stood in St. Patrick’s Barracks, Reuben and Robin were hosted by Major Gray who thanked them and the people of Ballymena for their continued support and generosity and assured them that this money would be used wisely to help those in need and our injured.
“Also in attendance was Mrs. Rosalind Lowry from Ballymena Borough Council whose help, assistance and expertise was invaluable in making the event the success it was.
“Because of changes within the Military regarding Regimental Bands and funding, etc. it now means that Regimental Bands come at a very high cost, but the continued support of Ballymena Borough Council, and in particular their Arts & Entertaiments Officer Rosalind Lowry, this concert ran smoothly and effortlessly”.
In showing their thanks and appreciation Major Gray presented Rosalind with a Regimental Piper figurine on behalf of the Regiment for her help and support, not just for this concert, but for that of previous Regimental events, not least the Homecoming Parade for the Royal Irish Regiment and the 40th Anniversary of the Ulster Defence Regiment with which she was also involved in.
Marlagh Educational & Cultural Group have also expressed their sincere thanks to Ballymena Borough Council and their staff, all those local businesses who donated or sponsored the concert and to all those who purchased a ticket in support of the Royal Irish Regiment.
A spokesman added: “Without the support of so many people this concert would not have been the success that it was and all those who sponsored or donated will soon be receiving a personal letter of thanks in the post”.