DIGGLE BRASS bandsman Lawrence Bradshaw has tales galore after returning from a fascinating trip to Belgium with the band.
The popularity of Saddleworth Whit Friday Contests across the globe is legendary, he reports.
A few years ago a group of enthusiastic Belgian brass-banders heard of the contest and decided to visit, and were so impressed they asked if they could join a band and play in a future contest.
We invited them to join Diggle B Band and they have subsequently visited every Whit weekend, playing in morning church parades and evening contests.
They are excellent players and have been an asset to our band, remarks Lawrence.
The friendship between the groups has grown, resulting in members of our band being invited to play in Belgium on two occasions.
We have performed concerts at two main venues in Belgium and were greeted with appreciation by local audiences who enjoyed our music, which is a different style to that associated with their bands.
Our latest visit to Belgium began with a trip to ‘Tyne Cot’ War Graves Cemetery at Passchendaele, where we played hymns and The Last Post’.
A wreath was laid on behalf of the band and all band members wore poppies. A Diggle band member read out the poem ‘In Flanders Field’, which was also read in Flemish by one of the Belgian players.
Later we visited Flanders Field War Museum at Ypres and the famous ‘Menin Gate’ memorial, which is inscribed with the names of 50,000 British troops whose remains were never found.
On Sunday, we played a concert, conducted by our Musical Director Mr David Shipp, in the town of Rotselaar with a small number of our Belgian friends to a packed and appreciative hall.
We were preceded by an excellent performance by the local Wind Band’ ‘Koninklijke Harmonie’.
Overall the trip was a great success and our younger players gave very good account of themselves and behaved impeccably.
Before we departed gifts were exchanged with the Belgians, who presented us with a fantastic framed copy of the ‘In Flanders Field’ poem in both languages.
Meantime, our band is always seeking and welcoming new players of all ages and abilities.
Like me, some of our players did not learn to play until approaching retirement age, added Lawrence. It is never too late to learn, and we encourage younger players.
‘Diggle B Band’ atmosphere is relaxed and enjoyable, but we do take our music seriously.
Prospective players should contact Musical Director Mr David Shipp on 07976 884318 or Diggle Band Club on 01457 872856. Or call in to a rehearsal on Wednesday/Friday evenings 7.30pm-9.30pm.