The first Friday in June means one thing - Kilcluney Volunteers parade.
This year was something special - it was their 70th Anniversary.
The bus arrived early in Markethill as the bus had been in Armagh for its PSV - thanks to Eurocoach for their care of the bus for us. Parked up in the spot for the evening. It was a beautiful day. Preparation for the parade was well underway. Band members of Kilcluney were working on new signage for the evening. Watching them work it soon became obvious that their job would have been made easier if the bus had been parked some where else. The young men were asked if they wanted the bus moved and the answer came back - no you are fine.
The crowds started to arrive around 5.30p.m. Valerie received a call from a band member asking what she would like for tea, and that wasn't the last time. There was a very relaxed feeling about the parade. The bus was busy and Valerie was on the bus by herself but it wasn't long before the Johnstons arrived. James was laden with buns decorated especially for the parade in the band colours. James and his grandmother Mina provide buns for nearly every parade. Hans and James helped Valerie get the tables and chairs set up outside. Then Andrea arrived and helped Valerie on the bus. It was a night when there were loads of things left on the bus while bands paraded.
Two of our youngest regular visitors arrived with a present for Valerie - a beautiful cushion made especially for her.
A lot of things in the band community go unnoticed by those who are not part of the community. Then Joanne arrived with a bag of goodies for the bus, your support is really appreciated Joanne. Being Jesus representative is very important to the project and it is always good when people are interested the things of God. Twice on Friday night people came to the bus and asked for bibles. With each request comes a story.
We also have a prayer request box and we received requests for prayer as well. We had loads of new people visit the bus on Friday night, there are quite a few people who know about Church Army which is good. One visitor we love to have is Cyril Walker and it was lovely to have him visit on Friday night.
There are some very inspirational people within the band community. One such person is Noel Greer.
Noel last year had an accident which left him with life changing injuries but he has over come many obstacles and marched with the band in the parade this year. A great achievement and those who know him are really proud of what he has achieved.
A member of Aghavilly Accordion band came to the bus and handed Valerie and envelope with a donation for the work that the team will be doing in Brazil in July it is greatly appreciated and will be spent wisely. The Armagh Bands forum also presented Valerie with a cheque for the project from the collection on the 17th March at the service of thanksgiving. Once again thank you for your support.
There were 52 bands taking part in the Parade - brass, accordion, pipe and flute bands - all genres. The parade was concluded by Kilcluney Volunteers band which consisted of past and present members. The band on the night numbered over 100 members. They also had a new uniform, which is gold shirts and black ties which looked great.
In the bus later that evening members of the band received a cake to celebrate the event from The Zacchaeus Outreach project. Thank you to Kilcluney Volunteers for allowing us at their parade and for their welcome and help. May they have many more years of success.