MARCHING ON: John Ryan has led his final march as thhe Drum Major leading the Lismore City Pipe Band parade in the Anzac Day March in Lismore. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star
MARCHING ON: John Ryan has led his final march as thhe Drum Major leading the Lismore City Pipe Band parade in the Anzac Day March in Lismore. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star Cathy Adams

Drumroll as pipe band major marches on after 67 years

TODAY will be the first time in 67 years John Ryan won't be leading the Lismore Pipe Band in the Anzac Day parade.

Instead Mr Ryan, 84, will watch the proceedings from the crowd outside the Civic Hotel.

When making the decision to retire from his role as the band's Drum Major, Mr Ryan joked: "The streets are getting longer".

Since 1952, Mr Ryan has been part of the Lismore City Pipe Band and he reckons it's been one heck of a ride.

He played the bagpipes for seven years then spent 51 years at the front of the band signalling with his mace.

 

"I started off playing the bagpipes when I was 15," he said.

"Then a couple of my mates were in the 41st Battalion Band and got paid. I was 17 but swore on the Bible I was 18.

"In 1954 the Army Band got paid double when Queen Elizabeth visited Lismore, because we camped at the showgrounds and we played during her visit."

Mr Ryan said when he became involved in the pipe band, there were no women members and the religion of new recruits was taken very seriously.

"When I first joined up at 15, they saw my surname and said, 'ooh sonny we don't have Catholics in this band'," he said.

"But they were reassured when I told them my mother's side were all Scottish who wouldn't even let me eat a green lolly."

Keeping order during the Anzac Day march takes discipline and a good voice, he said.

Looking back Mr Ryan said he always liked playing the well-loved tunes Highland Cathedral and Amazing Grace.

"You make a lot of good friends," he said.

"I've played at parties and weddings, we have played at pipe bands competitions all over, you get to know a lot of people."

Mr Ryan has amassed an amazing array of awards from the band, Lismore City Council, the NSW Pipe Band Association and the City of Lismore RSL sub-branch.

He will continue as the band's president and remain active in a more behind-the-scenes capacity.



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