Let the music play!

Reporter: Ken Bennett
Date published: 06 September 2021

You could be forgiven for forgetting what a brass band sounded like.

It had been more than 15 months since the Saddleworth valleys and hills echoed to the familiar musical ring normally highlighted on Whit Fridays which, because of the pandemic, had to be cancelled. 

But yesterday (Sunday) in Greenfield the music returned and there were more than 4,000 people to share and celebrate as 17 bands entertained the appreciative crowds.

And one veteran brass band buff confided: “It’s better than Whit Friday.”

The event, billed as Greenfield Autumn Leaves family brass band contest, was helped by sunshine which supplemented a genuine sense of freedom among the relaxed crowds who sat, walked and talked as the music eddied, rolled and bounced off the hills.

And for Frank Rothwell, on hand in his familiar flat cap (pictured below), it was a triumph. 

Because he was the man, backed by a dedicated committee, who, balancing all the elements of the pandemic and following guidelines and advice, saw a return to a kind of normality: if only for a few precious hours.

Bands from across the villages and beyond showed off their musical dexterity and everyone left with a cash prize.

And there was a bonus because world famous Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band did a special complimentary set.

The band won 11 of the last 13 Whit Friday contests at Greenfield, and they have won more contests at the Saddleworth Whit Friday Contests than any other band.

Summing up later, Frank said:“It was like holding two festivals in one with good old northern music and food and the opportunity to picnic in the park with your family.

“My committee did a stunning job.

"Everyone worked so hard to make the day so memorable.

"I can’t thank them enough.”

And the event lead to complete sell out of pie and peas at Andrea Roebuck’s Little Saddleworth Pie Company.

Winners: 1 Boarshurst £500; 2 Diggle £400; 3 Uppermill £300.

Every entrant received a £200 prize.

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