The committee of the Ballymena Festival of Music, Speech and Dance can be delighted with their centenary year events.
Section secretaries turned in a unanimous verdict that the Festival and its centenary concert had been a resounding success.
Vocal secretary, Dorothy Collie, reported that the largest number of entries in her section was from choirs, no fewer than fifty-three in all. It had been quite a logistical feat to organise such numbers. It reflected well on the Festival that it could attract so many choirs of such a high calibre.
A surprise came at the end of her report when she announced that after twenty-three years she was handing over the baton to Alan Forster who has been her deputy in recent times. She offered, however, to help out in future where needed.
Instrumental music secretary, Mairead Richards, reported on a very successful festival this year, with a high standard of performances all round. She highlighted the orchestra competitions. In particular she welcomed the participation of Rathmore Grammar School, Belfast, appearing in Ballymena for the first time. The appreciation was mutual: they have promised to return next year with greater numbers.
Hazel Bonar, secretary for speech and drama, revealed that they had over nine hundred entries this year in her section.
She was particularly pleased with Dunclug High School who took part in several of the new ‘communication’ competitions. She also paid tribute to the many volunteer helpers who act as stewards: those who do platform, adjudicator and door duties, without whom the Festival could not function.
Traditional music secretary, A.M McCloskey, whose competitions all take place on one day, reported on a very busy and successful event. There were 173 entries, and overall the standard was excellent. She did, however, suggest that Traditional music may need more time allocated to it in future.
Angela Morrow, secretary for modern dance, reported a very satisfying thirty-three per cent increase in entrants from last year, and four new school. Indeed, so full was the week that the championship has had to be postponed to 4 June. Angela also commented that organisers constantly learn by listening to comments from adjudicators, parents and teachers.
Membership secretary, Mary Campbell, reported small increase in the number of members. She also paid tribute to former members, recently deceased - Caroline McCann and Bessie Matthews.
In his chairman’s remarks, Stanley Hughes thanked the committee and the volunteers for their dedication and hard work. He was particularly grateful to the Arts and Events officer of Mid and East Antrim Council, Rosalind Lowery, for her invaluable assistance in the lead-up to the Festival.
He also paid a special tribute to Isabel Pettigrew who has retired after many years as the cups and trophies secretary. She will be greatly missed.
Festival president, Irene Cumming, brought the meeting to a close. In her concluding remarks she thanked the committee, the volunteers, the sponsors, the Braid staff and all the section secretaries for their commitment and hard work. Their dedication ensures a successful festival which is appreciated by performers, parents, schools and audiences. She praised those who had contributed in so many ways to success of the Centenary concert, the Centenary book, the exhibition and, of course, to the Festival itself.
The evening concluded with reminiscences and light refreshments.