Chair hosts reception for Mr John Scullion, World Champion Drummer

31st May 2022

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Recently the Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Errol Thompson, hosted a reception for Mr John Scullion in recognition of his success and dedication to drumming.

Below is the text of the speech which was delivered by Councillor Thompson at the reception:

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen


As Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, I am delighted to welcome you all here to the Council Offices at The Grange, Omagh for this reception in honour of Mr John Scullion to mark his success and dedication to drumming.

John, I understand your interest in drumming started at the age of 4 when you were listening to your dad and your brothers and you started playing on a board covered with linoleum when your dad heard you playing a band competition march.  You continued to listen to and emulate your dad and your brothers who were playing in Quinn Memorial Band Killygullib and by 1965 you had your own pair of drumsticks.

In 1967, whilst playing for Agivey Pipe Band, you were given the opportunity to play lead drum and over the years you won many prizes.  Later in the 1960s you joined Loan and District Pipe Band and your success continued as part of a formidable drum corps and, very quickly, your talent was such that you had the role of lead drummer at competitions.

After a brief spell with Seven Towers Pipe Band, you were invited to play with Lanarkshire Police Pipe Band in Scotland under Pipe Major Neill Campbell McGougan.  Later, you had the privilege of joining the Shotts Band with Alex Duthart, whom you still regard as your music mentor and the person responsible for making you the successful drummer that you are today.  I understand one of your greatest privileges was playing lead drummer on the Cullen Bay Track where Alex played as a forty drummer.

Your success in drumming as part of a band continued over the years winning World, European, British, Scottish and Cowal Championships as well as many smaller competitions.  However, you also excelled in your own right in solo drumming competitions winning the World Championships four times, Champion of Champions and Glasgow and West of Scotland Branch Championships six times, five of which were consecutive which is a remarkable achievement.  In 1982 you became Leading Drummer and you continued to earn Championship accolades.

In addition to playing the drums, you also write musical scores. I understand this started with writing for Eden Pipe Band in the late 1980s and this phase of your career has continued and I am told that thus far you have had three books published on drum scores, exercises and rudimentary permutations for various levels.

Since 2002 you have been teaching drumming both here and abroad giving you the opportunity to travel to countries such as Sweden, France, Germany, South Africa, Canada and the USA.  I understand you also had the opportunity to play with other talented drummers and you continue to create fusions of pipe band drumming and jazz with some of the musicians you met in Seattle.

Your talent and success in drumming has also afforded you the honour of playing for many dignitaries around the world including Charlton Heston, Antonio Fargas (Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch), Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Jackie Stewart of Ford Racing, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, Stirling Moss and Simon Le Bon to name but a few.

As well as teaching privately at your home, you also tutor in community settings and Primary Schools locally as your teaching abroad being put on hold due to Covid-19.  I am also told that you made drumming pads for over 70 primary school children on one occasion, such is your passion about drumming and your desire to share your skills and love of the discipline with others.

T Allan Armstrong, an American Athlete, once said “Champions do not become Champions when they win the event, but the hours, weeks, months and years they spend preparing for it.  The victorious performance itself is the demonstration of the Championship character”.

John, I believe this quote if fitting for you as you have dedicated many hours, weeks, months and years to drumming and this is evident from the outstanding talent you display and the numerous Championship titles you have accumulated over the years.

However, not only are you a champion in competitions but you are a champion of the art of drumming as you continue to encourage and teach others to learn to play the drums ensuring that piping and drumming continues to be a part of the fabric of our heritage and culture.

On behalf of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, and on my own behalf, I would like to congratulate on your outstanding success to date and I commend you for your commitment, dedication and hard work over the years.

I understand that you regard other drummers as your mentors, however, I am confident that there are many drummers and aspiring drummers who are in awe of you and your talents and regard you as their mentor.  I would like to wish you every success for the future and I believe that you have created a legacy which will inspire many future generations.

Thank you.