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Yorkshire Building Society in Switzerland

5th - 11th June 2002

Gillian Clark of Yorkshire Building Society gives 4BR a personal account of the European Champions latest trip abroad to Switzerland, where they entertained packed audiences wherever they went……….

For some of you perhaps, the Monday Bank Holiday of the Jubilee weekend may have provided you with a golden opportunity to get those shelves up, or to tackle the jungle out there you call your garden…. for the 33 players and management of the Yorkshire Building Society Brass Band, Monday 5th June 2002 marked the beginning of the band's first tour outside the UK since embarking upon what has proved to be an immensely successful partnership with the Yorkshire Building Society. There now follows a brief account of what proved to be a tremendously successful tour in every way, due in no small part to a huge amount of hard work put in by the tour organisers, YBS's own Richard Hirst and Paul Land.

Monday 5th: After a brief rehearsal at the band room at Lindley, the band sets off for Luton airport at around 5pm. An overnight stop at Luton Airport Holiday Inn provides the ideal opportunity to limber up for the week ahead with a few beers and a curry. It has to be said the curry on offer in and around Luton is of the hot variety.

Tuesday 6th: By lunchtime the band has successfully managed to transport itself and its associated gear to Geneva airport without any major hitches. The band flew on Easy Jet. One customer was to comment on just why Easy Jet was so cheap, something to do with the after effects of the Luton curries.
A few hours later David King and the band kick off the first of 6 concerts to be held over 6 days in a concert hall in Gland with a stirring rendition of Peter Graham's Summon The Dragon. Perhaps surprisingly, the audience reserve their most enthusiastic applause for the piece of music that rounds off the first half of the show - the Tranquillo and Finale from Piet Swert's "Chain". This of course was the test piece for the band's victorious retention of the European Championships in Brussels.

10.40pm: The implications of starting concerts at 8.30pm begin to hit home when the band find themselves taking to the stage to start the second half of the concert at twenty to eleven. The enthusiasm of the assembled crowd ensures that the band don't leave the stage until a quarter to midnight.

1.30am: Fortunately we're in Switzerland, and after a couple of cold ones at the venue and a short coach ride back to the hotel, the guys and gals of YBS set off into town fairly confident of finding a watering hole in which to round off a very successful first day. After 45 minutes of wandering the streets the intrepid but increasingly weary bunch find themselves still in search of somewhere to slake the thirst. A large dose of persistence and some halting French pays dividends in the end and an establishment providing cold beers and fresh pizza into the wee small hours is a very welcome find indeed.

Wednesday 7th: The day dawns bright and sunny, and the good weather perhaps plays its part in encouraging an impressive showing at breakfast and a good turn out at the first YBS football match of the tour. The teams are captained by YBS's very own "Playing the Field" Margi Antrobus and Gill Clark and match highlights include some impressive ball skills and tactical control from the three Michaels - Walsh, Howley and Green - and a brave thigh-stinging stop at close range from Margi. Margi's team (Walsh, Smith, Williams, Clough, Starr, Gresswell, Antrobus) take an early lead via two stunning goals from the self named Grezvaldo (Simon Gresswell), but a come back in the second half sees their opponents (Howley, Pritchard, Kay, Atwell, Green, Clark) come from behind to win the first game of the tour 6-4.

1.30pm: After an excellent feed at a restaurant near the hotel, most of the band retire to a nearby Irish bar to watch Ireland beat Germany with that stunning last minute goal from Robbie Keane. Following the match, it's back on the coach to start the journey to that evening's concert at Corgémont. Another late finish sees the majority of the band seeking out another late-opening bar. We stumbled across the town's Piano Bar and the players proceeded to show off their own piano skills in the style of Les Dawson. Those who couldn't play the piano just drank lots of beer. And one member in particular (Grezzy) paid for this by leaving a newly acquired coat with house and car keys in the pocket, never to be seen again!

Thursday 8th: The itinerary had the coach leaving for the next hotel at 9am, and at this early hour a few of the band are looking decidedly the worse for wear, with a certain member of the percussion section sporting a particularly impressive injury to the face sustained the night before by falling into his bed in a fashion he would not recommend to his worst enemy. However a couple of hours on the coach allow everyone to get their heads down and let the headache tablets work their magic. By the time the band arrive at Baumgarten and see the beautiful lakeside surroundings in which they are to spend the rest of the day, everyone begins to feel a good deal better.

2.00pm: After a spot of lunch the more energetic (and touched by the sun perhaps?) of the band are ready for another game of footie - so it's on with the shorts and t-shirts and off into the heat of the afternoon sun for a re-match of the previous day's game. Team Antrobus, strengthened by the fresh legs and skills of Stuart Lingard and determined to reverse the previous day's run of play, start confidently and scored a couple of deserved early goals.

Margi finds her scoring boots and contributes to her team's goal total by firing an excellent low shot past the keeper. Not to be outdone, Gill responds soon afterwards by getting a boot on a well-timed cross and burying a shot into the bottom right-hand corner of goal. Half-time sees Margi's boys in front - however, a bit of a re-shuffle in the Clark camp and the renewed confidence begins to tell early in the second half with a couple of great goals from Mick Green. The recovery comes too late however and Margi's team win a well-fought battle by a narrow margin.

4.15pm: Back at the hotel, the sun still blazing down, there is time for a refreshing dip in the lake for some - while others content themselves with a spot of fishing or simply chill out with the feet up and a cold drink or two. One bandsman (Grezzy) decides to blow up one of them rubber boats. Out on the lake he went, only to spring a leak. Panic set in when Simon announced he couldn't swim. He is a fast learner and made it back to shore with the band members singing Titanic.

Band manager Hirsty is faced with his first dilemma of the tour when he receives a call from a couple of intrepid cornet players who take a boat trip across to the opposite side of the lake and miss the last boat back….however, a couple of hours and a train journey later sees the sheepish pair return just in time for dinner. Later that evening, the great acoustics of the concert hall in the nearby Rotkreuz and an excellent audience contribute to what is perhaps one of the best concerts of the tour. Back at the hotel bar everyone rounds off an excellent day with a winning combination of beer and local sausage laid on by the hotel.

Friday 7th: A small matter of a certain international football match takes centre stage and the entire band take a certain amount of enjoyment in watching England taking Argentina's scalp in a slightly seedy bar in Neuchâtel. Following the match we move onto the venue for that evening's concert - an open-air concert at Expo 2002. The concert attracts a huge crowd who give the band tremendous support throughout the concert, which is recorded for broadcast on Swiss and French radio.

Halfway through the second half of the programme time is running short (a fireworks display scheduled for later that evening means that the organisers insist on the band being off stage by 10.30pm) and David King decides to bring the evening to a scintillating close with two very fine solo performances that go down a storm with the crowd - Pete "Figaro" Smith playing and singing his heart out in a fabulous rendition of Rossini's Largo al Factotum on Eb tuba and Gavin Pritchard bringing the house down with a performance at breakneck speed of the xylophone classic "Helter Skelter". The encore goes on…and on and on…but the band have no choice but to pack up and load up the bus for the journey to Sion and the final hotel of the tour.

Saturday 8th: Several of the band head off to sample the heart-stopping water slides at the local Aquaparc, while others take a wander into town or up into the surrounding mountains. The penultimate concert of the tour takes place that evening in Vétroz, and the band's last night in Switzerland is wiled away in traditional fashion in the hotel bar (which is apparently more usually frequented by members of the Treize Étoiles band).

Sunday 9th : The last and final concert takes place at Belfaux at 2pm, where YBS once again take to the stage. Throughout the tour the band was on top form with solo contributions from Stuart Lingard, Iwan Williams, Sheona White, Gavin Pritchard, Mike Howley, Peter Smith and The one and only Peter Roberts. The main item featured in all concerts was the recently premiered Hymn of the Highlands by Philip Sparke. This is a real tour de Force and had the locals dreaming of Scotland such is the descriptive nature of the work. The band was on brilliant form all week and we hope it is not too long before we undertake our second tour.

Straight after the concert everyone piles back on the coach, exhausted but happy, for the 1.5-hour drive back to Geneva airport and a 7.05pm flight back to Luton.

Where to next year….?

Gillian Clark
Yorkshire Building Society Band

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