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2012 North West Regional Championship — Postcard from Blackpool

Some things are changing in Blackpool — and some things are not...

Cupola
Let there be light...

Blackpool is changing; the Winter Gardens are changing: North West banding is changing too.

Quite a bit of money is being spent on the Las Vegas of the North. At first you may not notice it, but little things are a giveaway. Walk into the main foyer of the Winter Gardens and the place comes to life. Light beams down from the restored cupola.

It’s more than just lick of paint though: Something of the old grandeur has been restored.  

Carson

The honours board with the names of some of the great entertainers who have played on the stage of the Opera House has a much more 21st century look about it too – although poignantly one of the first names that jumps out to your eyes is that of comedian Frank Carson, who died a week or so ago.

The main thoroughfare bustles with activity, the traders have a proper (if cold) spot to do their business, and the punters can flit from one section to another to listen to favourite bands with ease.

Postcard
A cleaner, better Winter Gardens

Rococo

The Pavilion Theatre may not have the best acoustic in the world, but there can’t be many more impressive looking venues to host a Fourth Section contest, whilst the massive Empress Ballroom also has its challenges (the elevated adjudicators box, some 60 yards away from the stage being one), despite its fabulous mock rococo interior design.

In comparison the Opera House is a bit dark and dingy, but does offer a stage that soaks up any booming percussion without camouflaging the best efforts of crafty MDs who tried to hide technical deficiencies with a bit of overzealous timpani playing.  

Next year the venues may well stay the same, but the there will be two men in the box in each section.

Bates
Wonderful servant: Peter Bates with presentation vase

Contests?

As for the contests themselves?

After six years, Foden’s long run of supremacy came to an end, courtesy of a Swiss MD who will forever hold a special place in his heart for the Golden Mile.  

Elsewhere the region will send strong qualifiers to Cheltenham – with impressive new champions in particular.

Band Supplies
Keep smiling despite the cold... The lads from Band Supplies 

Debate

There was plenty to debate and argue over too – from Leyland’s fantastically elasticized winning performance, to the appropriateness of some of the test piece choices and even the result in the Third Section.  

The bars hummed with intrigue and arguments long into the night.   

There have also been changes in the organisational structure of the North West Regional Committee, with Keith Tysall taking over the reins from Peter Bates.

He must have been very pleased by the way in which the various contests ran.

New era promise

The new era promises much, with awards for the bands in the top six in each section, bespoke percussion expertly provided by Ray Payne, a new award in memory of the great Tom Cheadle (who always put a smile on your face), and the St John’s Ambulance Brigade on hand to administer appropriate medication for those in shock and awe after some of the results were announced.

Finally, it was good to see Peter Bates presented with a wonderful crystal glass vase in recognition of two decades and more of loyal service to the competition and North West banding – and good to note that his expertise will not be lost. 

He even promised that he will return to wearing his famous white trainers too.

Some things should never change at Blackpool.

Iwan Fox



Foden's Band - St Michaels & All Angels Church

Saturday 25 May • Egerton Road, Ashton on Ribble, Preston PR2 1AJ


St Pinnock Brass Band - Rock Choir Cornwall

Sunday 26 May • Sterts Theatre, . Sterts, . Liskeard, . PL14 5AZ PL14 5AZ


Contest: All England International Masters

Sunday 26 May • The Lighthouse Theatre, Kettering Conference Centre, Thurston Drive NN15 6PB


Lewes, Glynde and Beddingham Brass Band - Eastbourne Bandstand - 1812 concert

Wednesday 29 May • Bandstand, Grand Parade, Eastbourne BN21 3AD


Black Dyke Band - George Lawton Hall, Mossley

Thursday 30 May • George Lawton Hall, Stamford St, Mossley, Ashton-under-Lyne OL5 0HR


Stannington Brass Band

May 23 • A rare opportunity has arisen to join one of Sheffield's leading bands with a vacancy for an EEb TUBA PLAYER to complete our bass section. We have a good band room atmosphere and a calendar of interesting concerts and contests.


Horbury Victoria Band

May 22 • Horbury Victoria Band.. Preparing in good time for section one next year require Solo Euphonium and Front Row Cornet.. A not too busy, friendly and happy band. Rehearsal Wednesday 8pm


Hathersage Band

May 22 • BBb Bass to join in our music making under MD Andy Furmidge. Hathersage Brass Band is a non-contesting band whose friendly members enjoy performing at Village Galas and Fetes as well as several Christmas concerts.


David W. Ashworth

RSCM, ABBA Exec Member, NABBC PRO.
Conductor, Band Trainer and Adjudicator