Newry Feis President receives Points of Light Award

March 25, 2019

A legendary teacher of music, dance and speech throughout the district has been announced as the recipient of a Points of Light award from British Prime Minister Theresa May for her “long-standing dedication” to the Newry Musical Feis.

The Points of Light awards aim to recognise outstanding individual volunteers and people who are making a change in their community.

Ninty three year old Alma Brown, who is the current President of Newry Musical Feis, has been the driving force behind the competition over the last five decades, helping it become the second largest festival of music, dance and speech in the world –  with this year’s `Feis’  taking place over 45 days, showcasing over 14,000 performance entries.

Her name is synonymous with music and arts in the locality, having taught generations to sing, dance and take part in public and verse speaking.   A passionate pianist and violinist, Mrs Brown got involved with the Newry Feis festival in 1961, acquiring grant support from Newry Mourne and Down Council to fund bursaries and specialist workshops for the festival to support the development of young performers.  She continues to encourage young people across the north to take part in performing arts to build confidence and creative skills.

The prime minister penned a personal letter to the Arts stalwart highlighting the continuing success of Newry Musical Feis as testament to Mrs Brown’s “long-standing dedication to supporting your local community and enabling young people to flourish through the performing arts.”

Reacting to the announcement of her award, Mrs Brown said she was “pleased to receive this award not so much for myself but for all the Section Secretaries, Committee members and other volunteers without whom Newry Musical Feis would not be celebrating its 91st anniversary in 2019.

The Feis President added that she was delighted the competition has grown to become the largest festival of its kind in the UK, with over 14,000 performances each year.

“Over the years it has been gratifying to follow the successful careers of many of our talented young performers,” said Mrs Brown, adding that one of her “biggest joys” was to introduce a performance class for children with special needs for the first time in a festival.

“It remains a source of great pleasure to meet people who participated in the events at the Feis, and to make contact with the many friends I have made from other Festivals throughout these islands”.