Ballymena soldier Drum Major Dane McKenzie, is off to Cyprus with the Irish Guards next year.
This will be the latest country he has visited in his 12 years serving with the Regiment.
He said “I am looking to visiting a new place, and the training that we will do in Cyprus is great”
Drum Major McKenzie joined the army because of the opportunities on offer and the possibility of travel was one of the attractions.
Dane joined the Irish Guards as he already had a cousin serving with them. He also had the opportunity to be trained as a drummer and to learn to play the flute. As a part of the regiment’s Pipes and Drums he has therefore travelled the world.
Dane is not just a ceremonial soldier though, for as the Drum Major he also commands the Machine Gun Platoon of No 4 Company 1 Irish Guards. He therefore has a ‘Green’ role as well as a ceremonial role.
Some of his highlights so far included playing at the World Peace Fanfare in South Korea in 2002 and playing in America when the Pipes and Drums visited Virginia in 2010.
He said however his fondest memory “was being part of the pre match entertainment in 2005 when Northern Ireland beat England 1-0 and therefore getting to see the match for free”.
Another highlight for Dane was being promoted to Drum Major and taking over the Pipes and Drums in time for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and also the London Olympics.
He said “it was a real baptism of fire, but a real honour to be involved in these events”.
Away from his ceremonial role Dane took part in operations in Iraq in 2003 and again in 2007,
He has also carried out two tours in Afghanistan and has deployed to Kenya and Belize conducting military training.
As the Drum Major explains: “I joined the army to travel and that I have done, no doubt if I had stayed in Northern Ireland I would have visited Spain on holiday and that would be about it”.