Trumpet call for Lincolnshire's brass bands to perform for Queen's Platinum Jubilee

A trumpet call has been sounded for brass bands across Lincolnshire to raise the roof once more at celebrations taking place to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Alford Silver Band plays at the International Bomber Command Centre for the Royal British Legion Centenary.
Alford Silver Band plays at the International Bomber Command Centre for the Royal British Legion Centenary.

It is well-known that our much-loved monarch has a particular love for amateur music-makers, and has been a staunch supporter throughout her incredible 70-year reign.

So it is inevitable Union Flag waving communities are coming together to enjoy this great British tradition as proms in the park fever sweeps the county.

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Brass bands date back to the early 19th century and England's Industrial Revolution.

Skegness Silver Band rehearsing in a swimming pool during the pandemic.

With increasing urbanization, employers began to finance work bands to decrease the political activity with which the working classes seemed preoccupied during their leisure time.

Thus, the brass band tradition was founded.

There are currently around 17 brass bands In Lincolnshire – and many will be hoping the Jubilee will ignite a renewed interest in them after what has been described as a “tricky time” in recent years due to the pandemic.

Lockdown one was a low note brass bands like no other.

Skegness Silver Band will be back in Tower Gardens to play for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

"What became very clear, very fast, was that blowing as hard as possible through a length of metal pipe, releasing the vapours into the atmosphere,” said Norman Prime, secretary of Skegness .Brass Band which was founded as Skegness Boys’ Brigade Band in 1908 and is now a registered charity.

“Lockdown #1 came a mere week after we, along with many other Midlands bands, had converged on an unsuspecting Bedworth complete with unprotected instruments and a blissful ignorance of social distancing.

"We were extremely lucky.”

In order to continue training, bands like businesses embraced the internet to keep. Zoom, Teams and Skype became the ‘go to’ for communication, catch ups and coaching.

Alford Silver Band love nothing more than performing in public.

“Thanks to the hard work of our Musical Director Steve Walker and IT whizzkid Jason Mountford (cornet), the band managed to produce a version of ‘She’ and ‘Game of Thrones, of which we could be proud,” recalled Norman.

“Jason and Steve would later claim that putting the individual soundtracks and videos together was a ‘labour of love’ little knowing that it was the ‘recording from hell’ at home.”

A glimmer of hope that came as restrictions eased was short-lived. “The carpeted floors and padded seats of our band room were unacceptable in hygiene terms,” said Norman. “Yes, we are that kind of posh band!”

A new venue had to be found, and quickly. Luckily Band president Gordon Hawkins owned a local caravan park and the pool was empty. “The venue had no heating and no lighting but we jumped at it and in it anyway,” Norman recalled.

Now able to rehearse together, the Jubilee offers the opportunity to do what they enjoy most – performing in public.

Visitors will be able to enjoy seeing them play on Sunday, June 5, in Tower Gardens, Skegness, following the Royal British Legion parades in the park.

Norman said: "It is impossible to describe how good it feels to just be together as a group; to make music that lifts our spirits and strengthens our souls.”

Also striking up for the Jubilee is Alford Silver Band, which was reformed in the 1960s and has gone from strength to strength ever since.

Today, this popular band has a large playing membership and a well-established training programme for both youngsters and adults who have returned to playing, or who have decided to learn a brass instrument.

Like Skegness Silver Band, as funding for music in education continues to decline, Alford engages with local schools.and has its own Education Outreach Programme.

A number of young people who first learned to play in the Alford Silver Band have gone on to become professional musicians. This includes three current members of the band:

Josh Wilkinson grew up in Alford and first learned his music with the Band through its training programme, rising to become the Band’s Principal Cornet (leader of the band).

At York University, he gained a Bachelor’s degree and then a Master’s degree before returning home to Alford. A gifted pianist as well as a brass musician, Josh teaches piano and is also developing a wonderful career as a concert pianist.

He took over the baton as the Band’s Musical Director when he returned from university.

Andrew Taylor also grew up in Alford, learning his music through the Band’s training programme. He studied music at Huddersfield University, gaining a Bachelor’s degree in Music before returning home to take over as the Principal Cornet and Leader of the band. Until recently, Andrew was employed as a peripatetic brass music teacher throughout North East Lincolnshire schools, but is now an independent teacher.

Charlotte Burton also first learned her music with Alford Silver Band before going to Salford University where she gained a First Class Honours degree in music. She started her teaching career in Morpeth in Northumberland, before becoming a music teacher firstly at King Edward VI Academy in Spilsby, and then Head of Music at Skegness Grammar School. She is also now an independent music teacher.

Alford Silver Band does not compete in brass band contests; nor are we a ‘marching’ band. Alford Silver Band is a straightforward concert band that enjoys entertaining people with good music.

The band has enjoyed many highlights over the years (including once playing as the Olympic torch was paraded through Lincolnshire). Most recently, they were asked by the County Chairman of the Royal British Legion to perform for the County Memorial Service held at the International Bomber Command Centre in Lincoln last September.

Mike Green of Alford Silver Band said: “We are looking forward to helping the area celebrate the magnificent achievement of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, and we are delighted to have been booked to perform twice in our home town, Alford (June 4) as well as in some of the surrounding villages and at Kenwick Park Golf Club (June 2).

"Indeed, we have had to decline some bookings as we can’t be in two places at once!”

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