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West of England Regional Championships 2002

4BR trawl many past results to bring you this preview and therefore we occasionally make mistakes. If you do spot one, then please email us the correct information and we'll amend the article as soon as possible.

First Section:
The Colston Hall, Bristol
Sunday 7th April
Adjudicator: William Relton
Commences: 3.00pm

Competing Bands:
City of Bristol (B. James), Forest of Dean (J. Gwynne), Lybrook (A. Culshaw), Lydmet Lydney (W. Rushton), Ocean Brass (L. Rich) Poole Borough (P. Randell), Sherborne Town (C. Buckley), Solent Concert (W. Garner), St. Austell Town (M. White), St. Keverne (D. Greenwood), Swindon Pegasus Brass (J. Winterflood), Test Valley Brass (S. Large), Totnes (tba), Weston Brass (D. Tilling), Woodfalls Concert Brass (R. Bligh).

The First Section should provide William Relton with an equally difficult task on the Sunday, as 15 fairly equally matched bands tackle “Royal Parks”. Two bands have come down from the top section and will be joined by 11 from last year and two who came up from the second section.

There are no real clear favourites as we see it, but one or two come to Bristol on the back of good quality results during 2001 and will be keen to carry on the success.

City of Bristol are one of these, and under Bryn James they have been on an upward cycle of success since they gained promotion from the third section in 1997 and gained four consecutive years of ever improving results from 1998 to 2001 in the second. A series that started 15th in 1998, then 8th, 5th and 2nd last year shows how well they have done. They have also won in Weston and Gloucester and came runners up at Pontins and the National Finals, so even though they have taken the step up in class they could well be a band to watch.

Forest of Dean however are a band that has travelled in the opposite direction over the last three years after having a bit of a Icarus trip up through the sections in a short space of time. They were promoted from the second section after coming runners up in 1997 and they followed this up with a 4th place and runners up again in the first section in 1998 and 1999. This gave them promotion to the top section, but they struggled to make the final step up in class and they came 10th and 11th in the two years to be relegated back here. They will be conducted by J. Gwynne this year, which is their third change of conductors in as many appearances.

Lydbrook are also another band that will be taken by their third change of MD in as many years as Andy Culshaw heads their challenge. They were competing in the Championship Section in 1997 and 1998, but they came 7th and 10th and lost their status and the past three years have seen them hold a mid field position, coming 9th, 5th and 10th last year when Stan Lippeatt took them. 2001 saw them also come 7th at Wychavon and 3rd at the Gloucester contests

Lydmet Lydney have also tasted the rarefied atmosphere of the top section and have been found wanting for shortage of musical breath. Yet another band with a third new conductor in as many years, this year they have opted for the experience of Wayne Rushton as they seek to improve on last years 4th place. They were winners of the First Section in 1997 and followed that with 8th place in the top flight in 1998, and 8th in 1999. Relegation followed and in 2000 they came 8th in this section. 2001 has seen them come 7th at Wychavon and 17th at Pontins.

Unlike their rivals above, Ocean Brass come to the contest with an MD who has overseen their rise and development over the past three years. Leighton Rich is a very well respected band trainer and conductor and he has led Ocean Brass from coming 7th in the second section in 1999 to winning it in 2000 and coming 13th here last year. They also came 2nd at the Folkestone contest, so hopes will be high that they can continue their improvement this year as well.

Poole Borough are another with a third new face in as many years, with Philip Randall at the helm for 2002. They have been consistent challengers over the past five years and actually came 3rd here in 1999. Two 8th places in 1997 and 1998, 11th in 2000 and 5th last year fill out a very decent record, and they came 13th at Pontins and 3rd at the Wessex contest last year. They will be looking to improve on last years result and possibly get a podium position at the very least.

Sherborne Town are another band that will be hoping that third time will be lucky, as they have engaged the vastly experienced Brian Buckley to head their attempt to gain a place in Torquay. They gained promotion from the second section in 2000 after three years when they came 6th twice and runners up in 1999, and since then they have taken 9th place twice in a row. They were 19th at Pontins and 3rd at Torquay, so who knows?

Solent Concert are a band that is synonymous with MD Wesley Garner, as he seems to have been at the helm longer than Methusula. They were relegated from the First Section following their 14th place in 1997, but returned in style after coming 4th and then winners in 1999. 4th place in 2000 and 6th last year showed that they could cut the mustard and they came 4th recently at the Folkestone contest.

St. Austell are a band with a famous name and a famous past, but the last few years have been difficult for a band that in 1987 came 6th at the National Finals in the top section. They were 5th here in 1997 and gained promotion back to the top flight, but in 1998 they were 9th 1999 were 7th, and in 2000 didn’t compete. This led to them dropping back down and they were 8th here last year under Melvyn White, who once again leads them. They came 2nd at Bugle and 2nd again at the Hall for Cornwall contest, so hopes could be raised and Mr White is on something of a roll isn’t he?

St. Keverne will be led by the experienced Derek Greenwood and the last few years have seen the band really go from strength to strength on the back of an inspired youth policy. They were competing in the 3rd section just five years ago, but they won that and followed it up by coming runners up in the second in 1998 and gaining a further promotion. 6th in 1999, they didn’t compete in 2000, only to return to gain a podium place last year.

Swindon Pegasus lost their top flight status for this year after gaining promotion in 1999. That was gained off the back of three years of real consistency when they came 3rd in 1997, 6th in 1998 and 4th in 1999, but they struggled in the championship and came 9th in both 2000 and 2001 to return whence they came. They were 11th at Yeovil in 2001 and were 11th at Reading last year, so they will be keen to ensure that their stay in the first section is a short one.

Test Valley Brass are a band on a mission by the looks of it – a mission that will only end when they finally get to the Championship Section. Just five years ago they were coming 3rd in the Fourth Section, but since that time they won the title in 1998 and then came runners up in the Third Section to gain promotion further. In both those years they went on to win the National Finals as well, and following another runners up spot in 2000 and third place here in 2001 they come to the First Section with hopes high of further success.

Totnes have performed well here in the last two years and were 7th last time out. They were promoted from the Second Section flowing three years from 1997 when they came 3rd, 11th and 3rd again in 1999 and the came 12th here in 2000. They were 22nd at Pontins though and so will be keen to get further up the prize list this year.

Weston Brass fell back somewhat last year when they could only manage 14th place. That was a disappointing result as in the previous two years they had come 3rd in 2000 and 7th in 1999. They were promoted to the First Section after coming 5th and 3rd in the Third Section in 1997 and 1998. They will therefore be hoping to ensure there will be no repeat of last year, and will be looking for a repeat of 2000 at least.

And finally, Woodfalls Concert Brass, who were promoted to the First Section for 2000 after three years in the Third Section were they came 8th in 1997, 11th in 1998 and 5th in 1999. In their first year in the higher section they came 4th, before falling back a way last year when they could only manage 11th. They recently won the First Section at the Wessex Contest though, so hope swill have been raised that they can return towards the top places come Saturday.

So that’s the lineup then – and a pretty evenly matched set of bands they are. A lot of these bands will be able to perform the Lloyd work very well indeed and it could well come down to a question of interpretation rather than plain old “who plays the notes the best”. This could mean that there will be extra pressure on the MD’s and the ones with the most intelligent musical thought process will be the ones who’ll come out on top we think.

2001 Result:

Cinderford Swanbrook
St. Keverne
Lydmet Lydney
Poole Borough
Solent Concert

4BR Prediction:

St. Keverne
City of Bristol
Woodfalls Concert Brass
Ocean Brass
Test Valley Brass
Swindon Pegasus

Dark Horse: Poole Borough

The Champions:

2001: Thornbury
2000: Thornbury
1999: Hyde
1998: Yeovil Town
1997: Lydmet Lydney

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