Closkelt welcomes new Leading Drummer

Portadown, Northern Ireland - Following promotion to Grade 1 in Autumn 2019 after a very successful time in Grade 2, Closkelt today announces the appointment of Gary Corkin as its Leading Drummer.


For the previous two seasons, Closkelt’s drum corps was lead by Alastair Hopper who has now decided to leave the band. Pipe Major David Chesney thanked Alastair on behalf of the band for his service during his tenure as Leading Drummer.

Gary Corkin, newly appointed Leading Drummer at Closkelt
Gary Corkin, newly appointed Leading Drummer at Closkelt

Gary Corkin brings a wealth of experience competing in the top grade, most recently as Leading Drummer with the now disbanded Dowco Triumph Street band from Canada. Gary will lead the drum corps at Closkelt by bringing in new players as well as embracing the skills of current Closkelt drummers.


Gary has been playing since the age of eleven and was taught by his father Joe Corkin and in later years by Frank Gibson and the late Bobby Rea. Gary was a hugefan of Bobby and played under his leadership in the drum corps of the Grade 1 Pipes & Drums of The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) from 1982 to 1984, and was then appointed Drum Sergeant with the RUC band in November 1988. When Gary took over the corps there were only two snare drummers

Gary Corkin with the Andante Sash for World Drumming Champions
Gary Corkin wearing the Andante Sash in 2000

remaining, himself and Derek Smyth along with the bass section. A new corps was quickly established and under Gary’s leadership, the Grade 1 RUC drum corps achieved the following RSPBA major championship drumming titles:

All Ireland: 1989, '93, '95; Ulsters: '89, '93, '94 '95, '96, '97, '98 & 2000; European: '95; British '96, '97 & 2000; Scottish: '90, '93 & '94; Cowal: '93, '98 & 2000 (2nd place: '92 & 2001); World: 2000 (1st over all, 1st medley). '93 (1st MSR, 2nd overall), '94 (2nd overall).

In October 2003 Gary was appointed Leading Drummer of Grade 1 band “The Glasgow Pipes & Drums” He played under alongside Pipe Major Don Bradford. In 2007 Gary was asked to take over Leading Drummer duties at Grade 1 Bleary & District alongside Pipe Major Nigel Davison. More recently Gary began teaching in The Sultanate of Oman as Head of Highland Drumming with the Royal Cavalry of Oman Pipe Band and then alongside Pipe Major David Hilder as Leading Drummer with now disbanded Dowco Triumph Street Pipe Band between 2016 and 2018.

Gary has returned to Northern Ireland and is looking forward to the new challenges ahead with Closkelt as it takes its future debut in Grade 1 and is excited to be working with Pipe Major David Chesney and Pipe Sergeant Jonathan Chesney. Pipe Major David Chesney said "Its never nice saying farewell to any member of the band but I wish Alastair all the very best in the future and I'm pleased to welcome Gary on board".

Closkelt Pipe Band was established in 1938 and since Pipe Major David Chesney took over at the band in 2010 the band has achieved promotion from Grade 4b to Grade 1 in Autum 2019. During its time in Grade 2, the band achieved two successive Champion of Champion titles (2018, 2019), as well as two British Championships (2018, 2019), UK Championships (2019), Scottish Championships (2019) titles, finishing 2019 season as runner up at the World Championships.

for media enquiries, please contact Erinn McIlwaine at closkeltpb@gmail.com

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