2005 Regionals: North of England - Introduction

21-Feb-2005

There seems to be the signs of a real renaisance in the contesting scene in the North, so what can 4BR look forward to next weekend.


This year it is the North of England that kicks off the marathon round of the Regional Championships, and it all starts at the Dolphin Centre, Darlington on Saturday 26th February at 10.45am when the 11 bands in the First Section get stuck into John Ireland's deceptively difficult Comedy Overture.

The North of England is currently the smallest region in terms of bands competing in the UK (there are 49 down to take to the stage this weekend), but it remains one of the most vibrant brass band regions in the country and in recent years there has been a sense that the appetite for contesting has returned and that there is a new found strength of quality coming through the ranks.

Two recent examples of this has been the introduction of a brass related course run by Ray Farr at the University of Durham, whilst last year one of the region's Third Section bands, Dearham made the trip of a like time and were fantastic ambassadors at the 2nd United States Open Championships in Chicago.  In addition though has certainly been the form of the Ever Ready Band, which from this year competes under its new sponsors name of the Reg Vardy Band. Their brilliant form of 2004 culminated in third place at the Royal Albert Hall in October, and that means that for the first time in living memory, three bands will be making the trip to Kensington for the National Finals this year. That is a real boost for the whole of the banding scene here.

The Championship Contest this year will really be a keenly contested affair with that extra place up for grabs. Reg Vardy will of course be on relaxed form although they will be keen to add Regional title number 28 to their CV. Who will join them though will be the climax to the weekend on the Sunday afternoon.  Geoffrey Whitham is charged with making the decision, and it could be a very close run thing indeed.

It is hoped that what has happened in the Championship Section will have a trickle down effect elsewhere too as last year the best result from the representatives who made it through to Harrogate was Lockwood's third place in the Third Section Finals. Elsewhere it was a list that read 10th and 12th in the First Section,  8th and 9th in the Second, 3rd and 12th in the Third and 16th and 17th in the Fourth. Not too brilliant, especially as the year before Horden had won the First Section in Dundee, two bands came in the top six in the Second Section,  there was a 3rd prize in the Third and a 5th in the Fourth.  Lets hope the bands here are back to their best and will provide a strong representation come the finals in Harrogate later this year.

There is some concern with the bands in the lower sections this year from the organisers, with a couple at least touch and go to whether or not they attend, but it is great news that the Fourth Section will see a new band in the shape of Hartlepool (Youth and Community) take to the stage this year. That can only be good for the future of banding here, whilst it is hoped that those couple of bands finding it hard going will make the effort and gain both the experience and new hope for the future by playing this time round.

The First Section should be an interesting contest for Geoffrey Whitham to judge upon, whilst Derek Broadbent will certainly have a fine time in both the Second section and Fourth Sections. Also nice to report that Alan Morrison's talents are not being forgotten in the adjudicators tent either as he will judge on the efforts of the band in the Third Section.

It should all add up to a great weekend of banding and 4BR will be on hand to listen to the bands as we make our first full time trip to the contest. We are looking forward to it and so too is everyone else here.

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