Some bands wait a very long time to gain qualification to the National Finals — so you could fully appreciate the joy that accompanied the announcement of Bradwell Silver winning the Fourth Section title after a cracking contest.
117 years of waiting in fact — right from their formation in 1901 in the small Buckinghamshire village that after the Second World War was consumed by the expansion of the Milton Keynes 'New Town'. Under MD Brian Keech they had been trying at Stevenage since 1991, and in the last couple of years had even got to the fringes of the top-six.
However, Rodney Newton's 'World Tour' suited them perfectly, and after coming runner-up on it at the recent Oxfordshire & District BBA contest their splendid reprise deservedly claimed the title ahead of fellow qualifiers Regent Community Brass and Great Yarmouth Brass.
Victory means not only their first trip to Cheltenham, but also promotion to the Third Section in 2019; a fantastic achievement for a band where 19 of the players started their careers within the Bradwell Development Band and no less than eight were aged 18 or under.
Musical Director Brian Keech told 4BR: "I'm so proud of the members for this fantastic win. With the majority of the band taught through our Development group this is a tribute to all the tutors.
With the National Final and other exciting events in 2018, including a First World War commemoration concert in November, the band has a wonderful year to look forward to."
Gave their all
The same certainly applies to Regent Community Brass, as the defending champion gave their all off the number 1 draw to secure their second successive Cheltenham appearance under MD Chris Bearman, whilst there was just enough time for a celebration drink for Great Yarmouth Brass before they had to hop on the bus for the long journey home to avoid the worse of the snow.
"We got up and started our journey at 6.30am," their secretary Penny Gilbert told 4BR. "We were a bit worried about the snow, but that didn't matter at all after we heard the result. It's a little while since we've been to the National Final (2013) and everyone is now looking forward to it."
There was plenty of enthusiastic music making for Sarah Groarke-Booth and John Ward to enjoy in the box, as a long day flew along thanks to the bold attempts of the bands to try and capture the style of each of the contrasting postcard movements.
And whilst the judges highlighted the problems that came with the 'Pacific Paradise' (as has been the case all around the country this year) they praised the efforts of the MDs and especially the soloists (including percussion) for their efforts.
Regent certainly gave them an excellent marker from the number 1 slot, but there were also fine renditions to enjoy from the early draw performances of Watford, Cottenham and Hadstock that eventually finished in the top-six.
However, it was the late flourish from Bradwell who topped the lot, as under MD Brian Keech they neatly captured the sense of anticipation of the opening, the easy paced suavity of the ragtime and the languid Hawaiian relaxation before giving rousing performance of Waltzing Matilda that would have had any Aussie bar staff at the Stevenage Centre singing along with them.
That was a celebration well worth waiting 117 years for.
Victory means not only their first trip to Cheltenham...a fantastic achievement for a band where 19 of the players started their careers within the Bradwell Development Band and no less than eight were aged 18 or under4BR
Test Piece: World Tour (Rodney Newton)
Adjudicators: Sarah Groarke-Booth & John Ward
1. Bradwell Silver (Brian Keech)*
2. Regent Community Brass (Chris Bearman)*
3. Great Yarmouth Brass (Colin Swaep)*
4. Hadstock Silver (Diane Pannell)
5. Cottenham Brass (Peter Mackley)
6. Watford (Ian Graves)
7. Royston Town (Steve Earley)
8. Pangbourne & District Silver (Stewart Lewins)
9. Woodbridge Excelsior (Chris Lewis-Garnham)
10. Bletchington Silver (Sheldon Barwick)
11. Witney Town (Steve Sizeland)
12. Hemel Hempstead (David Edmonds)
13. Abbey Brass (Rob Tompkins)
14. Letchworth Garden City (Tim Welch)
15. Wantage Academy (Nikki Jones)
16. Marsh Gibbon Silver (Chris Johnston)
17. City of Oxford (Dexter Drown)
18. Amersham Community Brass (Paul Fisher)
*Qualify for National Final