2005 Butlins Mineworkers Championships - Introduction


This weekend sees the Butlins Mineworkers Championships in Skegness. It promises to be a great family weekend, with fun and games, plus plenty of great music to enjoy. All this and loads of money on offer to the winners!

Butlins logoThis weekend sees the second running of perhaps one of the most exciting brass band events for many years, when the 2nd Butlins Mineworkers' Open National Brass Band Festival takes place in Skegness.

60 bands will be taking part this year and although organisers were a little disappointed that there have been a number of withdrawals, it still represents a healthy turnout for bands at what is the very beginning of the 2005 contesting season. In addition, the news that the event is already booked into the calendar for 2006 and with real prospects of it growing further in years to come, this could well be a contesting weekend that could soon rival the Grand Shield and Pontins in terms of bands taking part and people being involved.

One thing is for certain though – the organisers are certainly putting their money where their mouths are, with a prize fund that puts to shame just about everyone else as well, with the top prize in the Championship Section a whooping £5,000 and with the first prizes in the lower sections a very healthy £1,200.  All in all the prize fund is around £20,000 this year, so bands can see that a decent result will certainly out them in a good financial position as they approach the rigours of the Regional Championships. It is a brave decision by the organisers to do this, but one that should bring great rewards, and they should take the plaudits from a grateful banding movement that isn't exactly flush at the present time is it?

One of the main reasons why the event is now staring to attract the numbers that it both needs, and also the brass band movement needs, is due to the hard work of the Musical Director at the Skegness venue, Steve Walker and the association he has built with the North East Midlands Brass Band Association and in particular Brian Egglesahw and Stan Lippeatt, who is acting as Music Advisor for the event.  Steve is a bandsman who has been conducting the local Skegness Band and his approach has shown a great deal of common sense and understanding to the needs of the modern bandsman and his family.

It also means that there is a very fair, but challenging selection of test pieces from ‘Harmony Music' in the top section, through to ‘Ballet for Band' in Section 1, ‘Verona Lights' in Section 2, ‘The Shipbuilders' in Section 3 and ‘Stantonbury Festival' in Section 4.   The judges range from Dr Roy Newsome and David Read through to John Maines, Barry Thompson, Alan Hope and David Horsfield, so the bands will be getting some experienced ears to listen to them.

This hands on approach means that the whole weekend will take on a very family orientated approach, with top class entertainment provided by the likes of the Don Lusher Big Band, Tony Fisher, Kenny Ball and even Keith Harris and Orville the Duck. Allied to that there is a very proactive approach to making the ‘boring' parts of a brass band contest much more interactive as well, with the draw taking place on Butlins own television channel. When you are having your bacon and egg in the morning then, you can tune to see where you are playing without having to rely on the jungle drum approach of yesteryear and trying to seek out your band secretary to hear the good or bad news!

All this is good news, as is the fact that the Butlins organisation has upped the ante in terms of accommodation and leisure activities as well. The chalets are now very well spruced out with self catering at a price of around £35 per head for three nights, with entrance to all facilities such as the swimming pools steam bath and hydro –spa as well as all sections of the contest all included in the price. If you are therefore fed up with the bands, you can take yourself off and have a great time elsewhere!

The contest itself will be run on a simultaneous basis in the venues on the camp, which range from the Centre Stage for the Championship Section, to the Reds Venue for the First, Crazy Horse for the Second, Lucky Numbers for the Third (could be appropriate with some draws!) and Section 4 in the Silver Self Catering Check In.  It means everything is compact and easily accessible and there will be the usual team of ever helpful Red Coats and a small army of banding volunteers to make sure everything goes smoothly.

It all adds up to what promises to be a great weekend, and 4BR will be there to report on all events (as well as enjoy ourselves of course!). So if you are already booked in, we are sure you will have a great time, whilst if you are looking for something to do this weekend, why not pop along and see for yourself. The mineworking industry's entertainment contest (CISWO) may now be something of an industrial relic, but the spirit of that famous old event still beats strong, and this weekend hopefully sees the start of its revival.


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