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Stockport youth honour sacrifice at Menin Gate

The Stockport Schools Brass Band has just returned from a memorable trip to Belgium where they performed at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Bridge.

Stockport
  The band joined members of the Ypres Volunteer Fire Brigade who provide the last post and reveille at the daily ceremonies.

Stockport Schools Brass Band (SSBB) has just returned from a successful tour of Belgium.

Based in Ostend, the band, made up of thirty players from the organisation's senior and intermediate bands gave concerts in Bruges and Ypres, including an emotional performance at the Last Post Ceremony at the famous Menin Gate.

Huge impression

It was certainly a trip that made a huge impression on the youngsters, with sisters Ruby and Phoebe reflected on the experience of playing at the Last Post ceremony by telling 4BR: "It was overwhelming to see all those names of the missing," said Pheobe, adding, "It was truly humbling to play at such a beautiful memorial."

Ruby who, as the youngest member of the band at age 11, laid a wreath on behalf of the Stockport Association of Normandy Veterans, added: "It was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life."

Context

The tour included visits to the In Flanders Fields museum and Tyne Cot Military Cemetery, which gave all the players valuable context for their participation at the Menin Gate.

MD Iain McKnight said: "The whole trip was memorable in so many ways, but the Menin Gate ceremony will live long in the memory for all our players. It is a special honour to have participated in this centenary year."

High temperature

The band also entertained assembled crowds in Bruges and Ypres in temperatures that rose over 30C.

"I was especially proud of the band who coped admirably with the incredibly hot weather," added Iain.

"We had lots of lovely comments from all those listening to us including a couple on holiday from Evesham who described the band as 'phenomenal'. That kind of feedback certainly makes all the hard work worthwhile!"

Even a potential concert disaster was averted when the band's music was left on the coach at one point — with two senior players dashing across town in the sunshine to collect the folders.

The tour also included lots of social activities, including time on Ostend beach playing cricket and tennis as well as the traditional 'tour quiz' which included a brass band music round as well as spot test of the facts the players learnt whilst on the Bruges Canal tour.

The whole trip was memorable in so many ways, but the Menin Gate ceremony will live long in the memory for all our players. It is a special honour to have participated in this centenary yearMD Iain McKnight

Summed up

Two of those most senior members — principal cornet Tom and sop player Sam — who will be leaving the band to go to University later this year summed the trip up.

"The friendships and memories made will last forever. Everyone got on so well and the atmosphere from socialising on the beach to playing in the concerts was just great.

SSBB has been such a big part of our lives and this trip was an unparalleled send off".

Meanwhile Band Administrator Alice Bell added: "I was so impressed with how well all band members conducted themselves throughout the tour and how they were a real credit to the organisation. So much so that plans are already being made for the next tour in 2020."



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Ian Holmes

BA (hons), PGDip (RCM), ARCM, ALCM
Conductor, piano accompanist and educator