Pipe Sergeant Robin Swann – Leading Northern Ireland’s Fight against Covid-19

Many pipers and drummers throughout the world are working in the front line of this worldwide fight against Covid-19, but I don’t know of too many (although I stand to be corrected) who are in what must be the most unenviable position of leading a government’s fight against this cruel virus. 

Here in Northern Ireland our Health Minister, Robin Swann, is at the centre of such decision making and in normal circumstances away from his day job he is Pipe Sergeant with the Cromkill Pipe Band from outside Ballymena, County Antrim. 

By Gilbert Cromie

I am most grateful to RSPBANI Branch President Winston Pinkerton who was the one who reminded me that Robin is a piper and that over the years has given great support to the pipe band community.

In early 2018 he hosted a ‘Worlds Winners’ Night of Celebration’ at Stormont [Northern Ireland’s seat of government] and last August he was the ‘Chieftain of the Day’ at the North West Pipe Band Championships in Portrush (see picture, top). 

Robin was appointed to the position of Health Minister on the 11th January 2020 when the Northern Ireland Executive got back to business after some three years of stalemate.

He would most certainly have known what a poisoned chalice the portfolio was going to be at the best of times but he could not have foreseen the turn of events that he and we all find ourselves in.

The day job….Robin, now bearded, helps stack PPE equipment for the NHS

Indeed those with any smattering of insight into Northern Ireland’s present day, diverse range of opinions and ‘expertise’ on all things relating to Covid-19 will know that his job has become even more difficult.

I am pleased to say that the general view is that he is proving to be an effective and compassionate Health Minister facing challenges unknown to anyone previously holding the post and I would encourage the pipe band community to remember him as he does this most difficult of jobs.

Most importantly play a tune for him and all the other ‘heroes’ each Thursday night who are doing so much to keep people alive and keep things going. 

  • Statement from Wallace Bagpipes: Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic and Government guidelines we are closed until the 18th of May. Safeguarding the health, safety and welfare of our staff at work is of paramount importance and we strive to provide working environments which are safe and without risk to health. E-mails will be monitored daily therefore I will be in touch soon. Take care and stay safe! Kind regards, Craig Munro, Director.


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