Adam was ‘a giant’ of accordion band scene

Tributes have been paid to “a giant” in the world of accordion bands, Ballymena man Adam Wilkinson.

Tributes have been paid to Ballymena bandsman and musical director Adam Wilkinson who has passed away after a period of ill lhealth.

Mr Wilkinson, 75, died in hospital on Tuesday, having suffered poor health for a few years. He is survived by his wife Jennifer and daughters Wendy, Janice and Charis.

Clyde Johnston, Organiser of the Northern Ireland Accordion Championships said: “Adam’s enthusiasm for the accordion movement was unbelievable. He started his band career with Killycoogan Accordion Band in the 1950s as a snare drummer before moving onto accordion.

“He became musical director and moulded them into a top class marching band as well as a concert and competition band.” He enjoyed “phenomenal” success with, amongst others, St John’s of Drumcree; Vow, County of Antrim; Aughafatten, Lower Ballinderry and, latterly, Glenavy.

His bands were “rarely out of the prizes” in the top Irish and UK competitions, winning fourth in the Advanced Orchestra Section with the County Antrim Accordion Orchestra, which he founded, and first prize with the St John’s Of Drumcree Orchestra in the Intermediate Section at the prestigious World Music Festival in Austria.

“No other Musical Director from the UK has matched that marvellous achievement,” Clyde said. “Adam was truly a giant in the accordion band scene and at his last appearance at the Northern Ireland International Open Accordion Championships in 2017 he received a richly deserved standing ovation when he was presented with a Special Merit Award in recognition of his great contribution to the accordion movement.”

:: Adam’s funeral cortege will leave Alan Francey’s Funeral Church, Ballymena today, Friday, at 1:45pm, proceeding out Toome Road to allow family and friends the opportunity to pay their respects, whilst adhering to social distancing. A private family burial will be in Ballee New Cemetery at 2pm.

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