A highly-respected Co Armagh lambeg drummer – who passed away suddenly last November at the age of 52 – will be forever remembered when a drum bearing his image is dedicated tonight.
And for the family of Richard Sterritt, from Markethill, it will be an emotional evening, one tinged with sadness yet filled with pride, as the father-of-six young children is remembered in this very special way.
It is they who have had his picture painted on a Lambeg drum which Richard himself crafted, with painstaking detail and precision, for one of his sons.
The popular Markethill man’s death came as a huge shock to the local community, but it was within the home and the hearts of his family where his untimely passing was felt the most.
Richard was a member of Ballylane True Blues LOL No 479; he was immensely proud of his Orange heritage and there was no-one more knowledgeable when it came to Lambeg drums. This was a love of the Orange culture which he passed on to his sons.
His family were first and foremost what Richard was all about, and his wife Kelley, and their children, sons Jordan, Ethan, Luke, Jack and Charlie, and daughter Hollie, were everything to him.
Kelley, speaking ahead of the unveiling of the drum, said his portrait was painted on it as their children wanted their father with them as they paraded the streets of Richhill on the Twelfth of July.
The dedication is due to take place tonight (Friday), at Ballylane Orange Hall, at 7.30pm.
Kelley said it had been a case of mixed emotions when the drum arrived home on Wednesday with Richard’s picture on it.
She told Armagh I : “I never would have thought I’d see my late husband on a lambeg drum so soon in my life.
“The drum belongs to one of my sons and his dad had made it for him when he was a toddler.
“The decision to have Richard put on it was quite simple – the boys wanted their daddy to walk with them on the Twelfth of July!
“It will be alongside their late grandad Ernie and second cousin David Sterritt – these are both well known Sterritt drums.
“As Richard always said ‘the lambeg drum is the heartbeat of Ulster’.
“The lambegs were a great love and hobby to Richard all his life.”
Markethill District No 10 will host the dedication ceremony at the Orange Hall on the Lough Road and, weather permitting, a drumming contest will be held afterwards, with light refreshments.
All are invited to come along when the drum will be unveiled and dedicated by Markethill District Master, Wor Bro Ivan Ross.
It will be a fitting tribute to a much-loved and sadly-missed man.