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4BR Review of the Year

The First Section.

Our man John James gives us his retrospective look back at the First Section in 2002. Lots of fine playing and a late night or two.

Look back on the year gone by and pick out your highlights. Even if you were only vaguely aware of bands that were making a statement you’d have to have ignored all our contest reports to be unaware of the impact of The Staffordshire Band. Of how everything came together at Torquay when they were certainly treading the red carpet of banding, more in the review that follows.

With that we had better start this review in the Midlands were Staffordshire, City of Coventry and Derwent Brass took the three places on offer from the areas. Winners at Burton Town Hall in the Midlands Regionals Staffordshire figured in the frame from May onwards - 3rd at Delph on Whit Friday and also at Blackpool in the Senior Trophy where they also came 3rd. They became 2002 First Section National Champions of Great Britain, and all of us who were there on that very long Sunday night in Torquay can testify to the quality of that performance. A week later they won the Wychavon Entertainment Contest before rounding out the year with runners-up place at the WMBBA Contest – Leamington Spa. Playing in the Championship Section at Pontins they approached the contest on a high note but didn’t make the impression they perhaps hoped for under conductor David Maplestone. They will be playing in the Championship Section for 2003 in the Midlands, and on the form displayed both on the stage and on the CD just released could be be a force to be reckoned with in the Region. The City of Coventry year in the contesting arena brought not only 2nd in the areas but they also took the 3rd place trophy at Buxton in May and a very creditable 6th place in Torquay. Derwent Brass surely celebrated 10 years of banding with a champagne toast. Conducted by Keith Leonard they took second in the Belvoir Castle Entertainment Contest, 3rd in the Areas and took 4th place in the National Finals – belting results in a celebration year. The Midlands produced a number of bands of note Riddings and Coop-Crewe took individual awards with Towcester Studio and Kibworth also deserving of a mention. One of the real star bands of last year Towcester Studio and their skillful MD Adele Sellers continued their upward progress. They came 4th at the Midlands Regional Championship in March and followed this with a 2nd at the Buxton Contest. Kibworth played very well in the Regionals without figuring in the prizes before they visited the Whit Friday event and at Micklehurst came 4th in a field of 39 Bands. Runners-up at the Wychavon Entertainment Contest they won the Leicester Contest and then endorsed their class by winning the Leamington Spa WMBBA Contest. One of the prominent stories this year revolved around a decision by the Midlands Regional committee to downgrade three bands from the Championship Section and to promote only two. This prompted Kibworth to apply for Championship status based on their past two years consistent record of achievement, a request which was rejected at local level but an appeal direct to the British Federation of Brass Bands granted them the Championship Section status they desired. This was not the end of the affair and the Kibworth Band still find themselves in the 1st Section in 2003 when sadly for the movement, legal advice (and no doubt stiff legal fees) was again sought by both the Regional Committee and the BFBB.

The Yorkshire Region was reletively quiet on the 1st section front. Wakefield Metropolitan and Kippax made the National Finals but left the English Riviera without a trophy. Holme Silver had a good showing this year and started a consistent run on Whit Friday in Saddleworth. They took the honours at Easingwold March and Deportment Contesta and then gained the prize for the best band on the march at the Brighouse March and Hymn Tune Contest in July. Ian Scott's band took the Old Silkstone March Contest honours a week later and so had a good spring and summer run. Barnsley Building Society won the £875 and the CISWO Challenge Trophy at the Mineworkers Contest and also took a prize at the new Silkstone contest.

Whilst not taking a National Finals trophy home Broxburn Public produced consistent contest performances all year with a win at the Carnegie Contest, runners-up in the Northern Charities Entertainment Contest and a 3rd place trophy at the Whitburn Contest. Livingston Brass were third at the Forfar Entertainment Contest behind Broxburn but then reversed the order at Whitburn and they too travelled to the National Finals making these two bands consistently the 1st Section achievers in the Scottish region.

Pemberton Old and Ashton–under-Lyne represented the North West in Torquay and pretty much flew the flag for the area in 2002. Pemberton Old were the winners of the Regional title in the North West and then won the Senior Trophy in Blackpool with a top performance. Pemberton were a classy outfit early doors but September saw a surprising waver in their form with a Wychavon Entertainment Contest 5th place, a performance at Torquay that could only get them 9th place. They had a disappointng Pontins result but you can be sure they will be determined to bounce back with a vengance in 2003. Ashton–under-Lyne won on home soil in taking the Tameside contest and were consisently the best local band at the Whit Friday spectacular. They played very well in the massive brass extravaganza of the Great Northern Brass Arts Festival at the Bridgewater Hall in September and endorsed their status with a little cracker of a performance under John Maines in the Championship Section to take 4th place at Pontins. Tyldesley celebrated their 125th anniversary with a SRO concert and took the 2nd prize in the Brass at the Guildhall contest in February.

A third region on the run with two bands quite heavily featured - the Northern region - Gateshead Brass and Harrogate. Gateshead Brass rose from the ashes of the former Northumbria Police Band after the Force withdrew their financial support and all literally overnight. It was a devastating blow for the Championship Band but with help from many quarters; friends, family, supporters and the members of the Band a committee was formed and they ‘worked their socks off’ launching Gateshead Brass. They won the areas and gained a good top-ten place in the National Finals. Harrogate had a decent year. They took a good 4th place at Buxton in May after finishing runners up in the Areas. They were runners-up in Class A for bands registered 2nd, 1st and Championship at the Malton Brass Band Contest but came away diasppointed in Torquay when they performed well without reward.

London & Southern Counties saw Matthews Norfolk Brass take the Regionals but they withdrew from the National finals to be replaced by Alder Valley Brass who came 4th. They won the SCABA Spring Contest in Hove and achieved a fourth in the Crawley Contest before their representative trip to Torquay. They rounded out the year with a mid table result in the SCABA Autumn Contest at Folkestone. Welwyn Garden City move into the Championship Section for 2003 and were not slow to acknowledge conductor David Stokes’ part in their progression from 2nd Section to the Championship Section. They completed their contest year with good result in the upper half placement at the Pontins Contest. Chichester City played in Torquay in buoyant mood having also taken 3rd prize at the Swindon Entertainment Contest in the spring. Conductor John Williams took over the baton 5 years ago when the band were in the 3rd section were rightly proud of their achievements this year. Friary Guildford took the Crawley Contest in a region were the bands, including Brighton and Broseley, all played impressively and took the awards in 2002.

Abergavenny Borough and Thomas Coaches Mid Rhondda represented Wales at the Nationals. Abergavenny Borough won the Areas and were then third South East Wales contest at Ebbw Vale in April. They announced the retirement of their long standing Musical Director, Eric Powell after 38 years at the helm in September and Philip Harper took them at Torquay. A runners-up prize at the WWBBA Ammanford Contest in October wasn’t quite matched when they competed at Treorchy but overall a most interesting 2002. Thomas Coaches Mid Rhondda waited late into the night to play at Torquay and produced a most distinguished performance to take the runners-up prize. They gained a third place at the West Wales Ammanford Contest and another good result in the Treorchy contest. Treherbert and District, Rogerstone, Abergavenny and Ammanford Town all figured in contests in the province of Wales and Tylorstown played consistently in the contests that make up the Welsh Triple.

St.Austell and Ocean Brass (Portsmouth) had belting results in Torquay finishing 3rd and 7th respectively. St.Austell under Melvyn White played really well at the Nationals and then had a good result at Pontins finishing in 6th place whilst Ocean Brass, after a creditable Nationals result, ended the year with the disappointing news that their MD Pete Curtis reluctantly had to step down due to unforeseen military commitments. St Keverne took the Truro and Bugle titles and Sherborne Town finished the year on a optimistic note in taking the Annual Championships of the South West Brass Band Association in November.


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Butterworth CD - available with 4BR shopping