Longridge Band has started the new year on a high note after picking up first prize in first section at ‘Brass at the Guild’
The win was a double success for the band’s musical director Mark Peacock, who also guided his ‘other band’ Hepworth from Yorkshire to the top spot in the Championship Section at the annual competition held at the Guild Hall in Preston
And in just a few weeks time Longridge will be in contest mode again as they ready themselves for the upcoming North West Regionals in Blackpool.
Band spokesperson and photographer for Longridge, Fred Little, says: “This is the first time that a conductor has won with two bands in two sections at the Preston contest.
“Both bands celebrated their wins together by going round the corner at Yates’s!”
Longridge Band was up against six others – Haslingden and Helmshore, West Pemberton Old Wigan, Poulton-le-Fylde, Harrogate, Ripon City and South Yorkshire Police – all playing the test piece ‘Essay’ by Edward Gregson.
Fred explained: “It is very much a ‘band piece’ with only limited solos.
“However, when called on, all the soloists performed very well on Saturday.”
And he adds members are preparing for another good performance at Blackpool Winter Gardens on February 28 for the North West Regional Championships.
There the group will compete against 20 bands all vying for a chance to make the finals in the First Section of the National Championship of Great Britain held in Cheltenham this autumn.
It would not be a first time for tasting success in the big competition after they were crowned champions in the first section in 1996.
The banner takes pride of place in the bandroom where the 30-strong group meet twice weekly on Wednesday and Friday behind the Durham Ox pub on Berry Lane, Longridge.
And this popular band, understood to be one of the oldest brass bands in the country has quite the history.
Their first known public performance dates back to 1845.
Longridge is the only band to have played at every Preston Guild since 1862 including the most recent Guild in 2012.
Fred, who has been a member himself for almost 30 years, says community is very much at the heart of what they do.
As well as keeping busy with competitions, the band perform at several events over the year from local festivals and civic events, also hosting their Spring, Midsummer Proms and Christmas concerts.
Financially they are supported by local businesses, individuals, patrons, Ribble Valley Borough Council and Longridge Town Council.
He adds: “The enjoyment and taking part is one of the greatest things for the members but also the entertainment you give to others, there is nothing better than a concert on our home ground in the Civic Hall.
“We have lots going one and The Patrons concert coming up in March is a chance for us to give thanks to the people who contribute to the band.
“These patrons saved the band from collapsing altogether and this is our way to show our appreciation for their support.”
As well as Longridge itself, players come from Bolton, Leigh, Wigan, Morecambe, Chorley and Preston.
“It is the way it is with bands today”, says Fred, “When Longridge first formed, everyone would have come from the village.
“You would have several members of one family in the band.
“Times have changed, today we still have core members, but banding has evolved and we have people travel from all over.”
Their talents have seen them travel all over Europe from France, Germany to Holland and Spain.
Last November the group made a poignant trip to Ypres, where they visited Belgium’s First World War sites where the names of fallen relatives and former band members are recorded.
Fred adds: “It is terrific. There is a big commitment involved, whether rehearsing for competition or an event.
“But we all have a great friendship and all enjoy entertaining people, that’s what it is all about.”
The band at the end of last year put together a collection of their music for a new CD ‘Best Foot Forward’ recording with the World of Sound at Blackburn College.
For more details on the band and the upcoming events visit www.LongridgeBand.com