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Aveley suffer Xmas fire setback

London Champs suffer fire setback for Festive season.


Aveley and Newham Band were the victims of an arson attack in the early hours of the morning of 22nd December.

The band’s van was set on fire outside the Aveley Village Hall, which is the band’s headquarters. The van was loaded with percussion and other equipment ready for a concert that Saturday night.

“It’s a devastating blow to lose equipment which has been accumulated by the band and both pre-merger bands over many years”, said band Chairman, Derek Morris.

The fire was so hot that the windscreen of the van melted. All that remained of a baritone was the valves and timpani and other percussion instruments were reduced to misshapen remnants. The fire destroyed the van itself, which has been a real asset to the band, transporting equipment and band members to contest venues such as Prestatyn, Blackpool, Yeovil and Cambridge.

Neighbours of the Village Hall, who also called out the Fire Brigade, contacted Mr Morris, along with band secretary David Lewis. They both arrived at the scene shortly after 2 AM and remained there through the night.

The band had been booked to appear with the Thurrock Choral Society in a sell-out concert at the Thurrock Civic Hall, concluding a busy season of Christmas concerts for the band. The band would like to record their thanks to the Tilbury Band who willingly lent their percussion equipment, enabling the concert to go ahead.

“We were determined that the concert should go ahead and were delighted by the warmth of the reception we received from the audience when they were told of the fire”, said Derek Morris.

“The band’s playing was met with great enthusiasm and we were overwhelmed by the generosity of the audience when we discovered that an impromptu collection for the band had raised in excess of £700.”

As the New Year begins, Aveley and Newham Band are faced with the considerable task of replacing the lost instruments, with initial estimates of the loss being in the region of £25 — £30,000. Despite this setback, Band Secretary David Lewis remains positive,

“The band has titles to defend at Yeovil and at the Area Contest early in 2002. We are determined that the band will get to the contests and hope to live up to the band’s growing reputation on the national contesting scene.”

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