Safe and sound, a fitting tribute

Date published: 20 June 2011

ORGANISERS hailed a safe and relatively trouble-free Saddleworth Whit Friday band contest as thousands enjoyed the best of brass.

Predicted storms failed to materialise and drizzle didn’t deter crowds — or 115 bands competing for £37,000 in prize money across 12 villages.

After last year’s tragedy when father-of-five Alan Chamberlain, from Hyde, was killed after colliding with a coach as he crossed the road with his eight-year-old son Zac — as well as a serious car crash in Springhead causing injuries and traffic chaos — new measures ensured a safe event.

Police reported a steep drop in trouble with just seven arrests for disorder compared with 27 last year.

And it was a record-breaking day in Delph for “the greatest free show on Earth” as 82 bands ensured its highest turnout.

But it was in Greenfield where emotion mixed with joy.

In honour of Mr Chamberlain, the famous Brighouse and Rastrick Band stopped to play the 57-year-old’s favourite Easter Hymn “There Is A Green Hill Far Away”.

A hub of excitement was hushed to silence for the poignant tribute as people crowded round to hear in a respectful manner.

There were tears from those who knew and loved Alan and the perfect rendition ended in heartfelt applause.

The entire Greenfield contest was dedicated to Alan and a special youth trophy awarded in his memory, which was fittingly won by Dobcross Youth Band in which some of his family play.

Safety measures saw the bands march down Chew Valley Road as normal, but coaches making their way one-by-one down Greenbridge Lane and waiting at the band club with Chew Valley Road closed to through traffic.

Greenfield band contest chairman Joe Buckley said: “The hymn was very well received by the public and family of Alan Chamberlain. The whole family, 11 of them, came and sought me out to say how appreciative they were.

“The new arrangements worked very well indeed with a lot of work from the marshals and people involved professionally with traffic. We were very happy with it. People said it is to be the blueprint for the future.

“We were pleasantly surprised with the weather. Everyone expected being washed out and that didn’t happen and didn’t really interfere at all. It was very busy both on the streets and on the field.

“Everyone had a first-class Whit Friday. It all came together on the night and worked very well.”

The contest united young and old as traditional standards mixed with modern pop, such as Fulham Band’s test piece of a Lady Gaga hit.

Outfits were just as colourful, from smart traditional uniforms to Bramley Brass adding a splash of colour in Hawaiian shirts and shorts, mock grass skirts, flowers, garlands and shades.

Wardle High School Band shared the entertainment prize in Greenfield in their cute Mickey and Minnie Mouse outfits led by baton twirling.

Contest chairman Bob Rodgers said: “The rain curtailed it a little bit. We didn’t have quite as many as we could have, but we had an enjoyable event and were perfectly happy to take what we had as the forecasts were horrendous.

“I think the police strategy has worked. The stewards worked their socks off and were absolutely brilliant, as was the police presence. Everything went perfectly and we were very happy.”

For the first time, Saddleworth Police used Twitter to update revellers. It detailed seven arrests for alcohol-related disorder with Uppermill the main focus of trouble, and six ambulances called there to attend to the public.

One tweet read: “Sixteen-year-old female taken into police protection due to drinking too much alcohol. Parents — do you know where your children are now?”

Insp Danny Milovanovic said: “There were seven arrests for disorder but apart from that it was very positive. The majority of people enjoyed it and it was a good event. Compared to last year the big improvement was that the environment was a lot better.”

A ROOFING firm came to the rescue of the Lees and Springhead contest. Organisers were struggling to set up an awning after being let down by helpers.

Councillor Val Sedgewick spotted a van belonging to Apex Roofing and rang the number to ask for help.

The firm sent out three young roofers — Anthony Ashforth, Chris Chadwick and Alistair Lord — who had the stand up in less than an hour.

“They did an absolutely wonderful job,” said Val.

All the results

Area Open Champions

1 Brighouse & Rastrick, £2,500; 2 Leyland Brass, £1,000; 3 Marsden Silver, £750).

Local Area Champion

(8 mile radius Uppermill): 1 Milnrow Band, £750; 2, Oldham Band (Lees), £600, 3 Diggle Band, £400.

Youth: Dobcross Youth Band, £250


(82 bands) 1, Brighouse & Rastrick; 2 Milnrow; 3, Hepworth. Local: Uppermill 2: Dobcross Silver. Youth: Smithills School Senior Brass.


(52 bands) 1 Brighouse & Rastrick, 2 Hepworth Band, 3 Diggle Band. Local: United Norwest Coop Milnrow. Youth: 2nd Rossendale Scout Band


(50 bands) 1 Leyland Brass, 2 Pemberton Old Wigan Band; 3 Brighouse & Rastrick. Local: Diggle Band. Youth: Smithills School Senior Brass.


(56 bands) 1 Brighouse & Rastrick, 2 Leyland, 3 Marsden Silver. Local: Marsden Silver. Youth: Dobcross Youth.


(43 bands) 1 City of Bradford Band, 2 Elland Silver, 3 Greenalls Band. Local: Boarshurst Silver. Youth: 2nd Rossendale Scouts.


(40 bands) 1 Rothwell Temperance, 2 Leyland Brass, 3 Hammonds Saltaire. Local: Oldham Band (Lees). Youth: 2nd Rossendale Scouts.


(65 bands) 1 Brighouse & Rastrick; 2 Marsden Silver, 3 Hepworth Band. Local: United Co-op Milnrow. Youth: Dobcross Youth.


(46 bands) 1 Brighouse & Rastrick, 2 Rothwell Temperance, 3 Oldham Band (Lees). Local: Uppermill. Youth: Dobcross Youth.


(48 bands) 1 Hammonds Saltaire, 2 Hepworth Band, 3 Leyland Brass. Local: United Northwest Co-op Milnrow. Youth: Wardle High School.


(60 bands) 1 Leyland, 2 Hammonds Saltaire, 3 Oldham Band (Lees). Local: Oldham Band (Lees). Youth: 2nd Rossendale Scouts.

Scouthead & Austerlands

(63 bands) 1 Rothwell Temperance, 2 Marsden Silver, 3 Pemberton Old Wigan. Local: United Northwest Co-op Milnrow. Youth: Dobcross Youth.


(54 bands) 1 Marsden Silver, 2 Hepworth Band, 3 Delph. Local: Dobcross Silver. Youth: Dobcross Youth.