DEDICATED brass band musicians are driving a novel fundraising idea aimed at saving a community-wide tradition.
Saddleworth’s annual Whit Friday brass band contests are hailed as “the greatest free show on earth.”
However, with some villages in difficulties finding funds and volunteers to keep the events going, the festivities are under threat.
Boarshurst Silver Band, which this year celebrates its 170th anniversary and enter the Championship Section next year, are promoting The Whit Friday Challenge to raise funds on a Go Fund Me page to benefit villages taking part in the spectacular this year on June 14.
James Garlick, 37, the band’s conductor for five years, explained: “We are promoting The Whit Friday Challenge after recently finding out the prize money alone to run Saddleworth Whit Friday comes in at a whopping £34,000.
“We decided we would try and help. All proceeds will be split between the 11 villages that take part.
“Essentially, bands have to post a video of their band playing a march, nominate three others to do the same, and then donate what they can to our Go Fund Me page.
“Everyone loves to come and watch the ‘greatest free show on earth’ but often have no idea of how much it actually costs.
“It’s come to a point where some villages may not be able to continue through not being able to raise the funds required to run the contest.
“This would be dreadful — so we are asking for the support of the Saddleworth community to help out and donate what they can.
“We have already seen some contests unable to continue over the years and the Greenfield contest alone costs around £9,000 to stage.
“This event has taken place every year for over 100 years with 119 brass bands taking part last year – coming from all around the world.
“The event is also attended by thousands, who enjoy the day with friends and family, watch the bands march down, then play their contest march piece – for free.
“It would be a travesty if this event could no longer go ahead.”
He added: “We are hoping to raise £1,000. But we said that about the Jingle Bells Challenge for Music For Youth we did last year and ended up raising £4,000.
“We have had a good response from the brass band community but it would be amazing to gain more support from all the Saddleworth community.”
Visit the Go Fund Me page online at: https://tinyurl.com/y5gy9tve