Sunshine and brass
Reporter: KEN BENNETT and MARINA BERRY
Date online: 16 June 2014
DELIGHTED organisers of Saddleworth’s legendary Whit Friday Brass Band contests are celebrating a sunshine bonus that helped to smash entry records.
Sweltering weather brought huge crowds to listen to 133 local, national and international bands at the area’s “greatest free show on earth” across 11 villages.
A rapturous reception was given to the Band of the King’s Division, part of the Corps of Army Music – the British Army’s first brass band and the first-ever to play the Whit Friday contests.
They took third place in Greenfield and scooped a handful of deportment prizes - and raised £1,000 for the soldiers’ charity (ABF).
Said their spokesman, Perry O’Brien: “We are so proud the Whit Friday brass band public really supported us. The atmosphere in Saddleworth was simply electric.”
A special welcome was reserved for first-time visitors Neo Brass, who travelled 6,000 miles from Japan to compete. The British-style brass band was founded by Hiroe Tada, formerly a member of Hammonds Saltaire Band in Yorkshire.
Robert Rodgers, Saddleworth Whit Friday brass band contest coordinator, said: “Our contests’ fame has spread worldwide. Whit Friday 2014 will certainly be one to remember.”
Several contests reported record entries, including Delph with 84 bands, Denshaw 65 and Greenfield 69. Scouthead and Austerlands, which had 71 competitors, were on course for a band record until inconsiderate parking caused a 45-minute delay.
David Needham, the new Mayor of Austerlands and secretary to their Whit Friday Contest, said: “This should not detract from what was an excellent evening and a fitting reward for the hardworking committee.”
There were marvellous performances from local bands and Brighouse and Rastrick, Black Dyke, Faireys and Leyland – the main contenders for the big money area prizes.
Black Dyke scooped the Area Open Championship and £2,500, beating Brighouse and Rastrick (£1,000) and Fairey Band (£750). Rossendale Scouts won the Area Youth Championship and £250 prize.
EMERGENCY services brought drama to the contests. Two women in their 70s were taken to hospital after falling into a river during the Friday night event.
Emergency services were called to rescue the two women after one fell into a stream which runs behind the Old Bell Inn in Delph. Her friend went in to help her.
Oldham Fire Station manager Paul Whittaker said: “It’s a shallow river but there’s a 10ft drop so they couldn’t get themselves out.”
Both women were taken to hospital as a precaution.
Locals said Friday the 13th lived up to its name in Delph - there were five ambulance calls for non-contest related medical emergencies.
Police made five arrests on the night, four for public order offences and one for drugs. Large amounts of beer, ciders and spirits, were confiscated by officers who took them from youths travelling into Uppermill for the evening events.
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