Whit Friday spirit alive in Saddleworth

WHIT Friday celebrations and band contests were officially cancelled for a second year – but locals kept the spirit of the day alive with their own smaller impromptu festivities.

Friday, May 28 was the date in the diary for the church walks in the morning followed by band contests across Saddleworth’s villages from the afternoon onwards.

However, with the event called off once more due to the coronavirus pandemic, local bands and residents kept the traditions going themselves on a much smaller scale.

Bands – who were only recently allowed to start rehearsing as lockdown restrictions eased – gathered in small groups outside to perform hymns and marches for passers-by.

This included Dobcross Brass Monkeys in the village square and Uppermill Band who played by Saddleworth Museum and also entertained residents outside Riverside House.

Some locals were wearing band festival inspired face masks, which were designed and produced by the Diggle Band Contest and sold locally to raise funds for next year’s event.

Flags and banners, which are usually paraded around the streets, flew high on churches to mark the occasion.

In Grotton, the village planter was decorated by locals and the Saddleworth Yarnbombers while an eye-catching cover was created by member Alicia Marland for one of the posts opposite.

An online ‘Saddleworth Day of Music’ group on Facebook, which was launched last year by Scouthead resident Carol Oldham, once more helped locals celebrate the occasion.

Everyone was invited to share videos of themselves playing instruments or even singing, while others posted photos and memories of Whit Fridays past.

And there was plenty of brass band music to listen to thanks Foden’s Band online Whit Friday championships, organised for a second year.

The competition saw about 60 bands take part by sending in recorded videos of their performances to be judged.

The overall winners were Cory Band in first place, Bedroom Brass in second and The GUS Band in third.

All the entries can be watched online:

You can still contribute towards the future of the Saddleworth & Tameside Whit Friday Championships by donating online: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/whitfriday

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