REGULAR Whit Friday contestants should take note of a new band on the programme this year.
They would certainly be wise not to underestimate the ability of a national band with its roots in Scotland and unofficial headquarters in the Home Counties.
The Castle Water Band is definitely not visiting simply to admire Saddleworth’s stunning scenery or enjoy a beer and burger walk round the villages with a few tunes played for good measure.
Collectively, it may be a Whit Friday debut for a band bearing the name of the UK’s largest independent water retailer. However, most of the 25 musicians have competed before at the ‘greatest free show on earth’.
“Previously,” explained band member and Castle Water employee, Adam Reynolds, “We were a group of people who enjoyed banding but didn’t have time to completely commit.
“We have however all regularly played with other bands across the country.
“We are a national band with musicians from Wigan, Altrincham and Oldham but also members from Oxford, Henley and High Wycombe. A few members will also join us from elsewhere in Europe.
“It’s a very broad range and most are semi-professional or professional musicians.
“Many of us wanted to do Whit Friday but couldn’t previously commit to regular bands.
“So, we thought we would start a band to do it this year and see what happens.
“Depending on how it goes we might start a full brass band to contest regularly.”
And this Anglo Scottish contingent mean business.
“It is difficult to say because you never know who is going to turn up or who is going to do which village,” added Adam when asked about Castle Water’s victory chances.
“But we would like to win ‘Best Newcomer’ or ‘Best Unsectioned.’
“That’s the plan anyway. We have a map, we know the villages and we will see where the music takes us.”
Castle Water started life in Blairgowrie, Scotland in 2014 with the intention of operating in the English business water market.
“We acquired the customers of Portsmouth Water and Thames Water which gave us a good foothold in the English market,” said Adam.
“Today we supply businesses and organisations UK-wide and have offices in London, Portsmouth, Leeds, Blairgowrie, Ayr and Glasgow.”
The band’s Musical Director, Jake Bagby, said: “The Brass Band movement has been associated with British businesses and industry since its inception.
“When approached by Castle Water, we saw a great opportunity to keep this tradition going and we greatly look forward to playing in this year’s Whit Friday contest.”
Castle Water CEO, John Reynolds OBE, added: “Castle Water works closely with customers in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester, including hospitals and local authorities.
“We are delighted to be able to take part in the Whit Friday competition.”
Meanwhile, there will be at least a couple of Finnish visitors attending the Whit Friday celebrations.
In doing so they will be renewing links with the Church of England in Saddleworth.
The Benefice has ties with the Lutheran Church in Forssa, an old cotton manufacturing town around 60 miles from the capital Helsinki.
Three years ago Reverend Geoffrey Adams visited Forssa and joined the rector, Esa, at her Confirmation services.
“We travelled round to different houses/farms to sing a hymn and say prayers,” he said. “Esa is also an accomplished guitarist which helped the music along.
“It would be wonderful if one day more of us could experience the warmth, fellowship and music of the Church in Forssa.
“Now after a gap of two years Esa and Minna are returning to Saddleworth to join in our Whit Friday celebrations.”