The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Scotland was in fine tune for a special ‘Beating Retreat’ event in Lisburn on Saturday, May 13.
Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council hosted the spectacular pageant of music and military precision drill in support of HMS Hibernia - the Royal Navy Reserve Unit in Northern Ireland, which is located at Thiepval Barracks.
The invite-only event in Castle Gardens was attended by a number of special guests, including the Lord Lieutenant for Co Antrim, Mrs Joan Christie OBE; the High Sheriff for County Antrim, Miranda Tisdale; Dame Mary Peters CH DBE, Freeman of the City and Honorary Royal Navy Reserve Captain; HMS Hibernia’s Commanding Officer, Commander Neil Downing and Royal Navy Commander John Gray. Also present were a number of local business representatives and elected members.
Earlier in the day the band wowed city centre shoppers with a public performance in Market Square as part of a ‘Meet the Navy’ event, during which a number of Lisburn Sea Cadets were given the honour of playing with the band.
Commenting on the event in Castle Gardens, Mayor Brian Bloomfield MBE said: “As a council we are extremely proud of our close links with the Armed Forces and are delighted to extend this to HMS Hibernia. Thiepval Barracks has become the headquarters of the Royal Naval Reserve in Northern Ireland, where regional activities are managed and on behalf of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council I would like to recognise the vital work of Commander Neil Downing and the ship’s company of HMS Hibernia. I am confident that our association will be a long and mutually rewarding one.
“I would also like to thank the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Scotland for putting on such an excellent military musical display; it was a privilege to have them perform at this event.”
Thanking the Mayor and the council for their support, Commander Downing said: “Since relocating to the City, the people of Lisburn have truly embraced us and we feel very much at home. It is not only a privilege to have an event like this thrown in our honour, but it is also an excellent way of highlighting the work that we do which in turn supports our recruitment efforts and provides backing from the wider community.”
Responding to complaints that the event in Market Square hadn’t been widely publicised, a council spokesperson said “there were limitations to the level of publicity undertaken prior to the performance” due to security sensitivities and following consultation with the organisations involved.
The spokesperson stressed that the evening event at Castle Gardens was a private function for invited guests from across the city, including people from the voluntary and business sectors, as well as members of the Armed Forces.
“Given the security involved, only invited guests were permitted access to Castle Gardens for the duration of the event. This event was not promoted to the public because it remained a private function,” she said.