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Saddleworth and Oldham group of Whit Friday Band Contests receive The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

The group of volunteers based in the Saddleworth and LeesVillages have been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK and is the equivalent of an MBE.

Each year, approximately 300 volunteers are involved in presenting the Whit Friday Band Contests at eleven venues in Denshaw, Delph, Dobcross, Diggle, Uppermill, Greenfield, Friezland, Lydgate, Grotton, Lees and Springhead and Scouthead and Austerlands; there are innumerable hours of commitment needed to provide this spectacular, unique event.

This year the group is one of 241 different category winnersto receive the prestigious award.

The QAVS aims to recognise work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. Created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, award recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.

Representatives of the group will receive the award crystal and certificate signed by Her Majesty the Queen from the Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Sir Warren Smith,later this summer.

Spokesman Bob Rodgers, the co-ordinator for the group said “Although contests have been in existence for 137 years this group has functioned since 1993 and we are honoured and obviously delighted to have been successfully nominated for this award, the work that is undertaken to provide the ‘greatest free show on earth’ is a twelve-month rolling programme. To the visitors who arrive on the evening, it appears to ‘just happen’. Throughout the area thousands of hours are put intoplanning and preparation. We are indebted to Oldham Council for the infrastructure and advice they provide that only those involved in the running are aware of and the financial support through the Saddleworth and Lees District Partnership, not to mention the numerous businesses who sponsor the individual contests.

Bob went on to say “The group were told they were beingnominated for the award in the Autumn of 2019. It is ironic that since then we have been unable to function for the last two years through restrictions imposed by Covid. However, we are all looking forward to continuing with this great show in 2022, when hopefully all our banding activity will be back to normal.”

Autumn Leave Brass Band Contest

We have had to cancel our Whit Friday Brass Band Contest on 2 consecutive years because of covid.

Greenfield Whit Friday Brass Band Contest Committee would like to encourage and help our local brass bands restart after this lockdown by holding an Autumn Leaves Brass Band Contest 0n Ladhill Playing Fields on Sunday 5th September between Noon and 8 pm.

We have researched our local bands to test the appetite for an early autumn contest and checked with Bob and Mary Rodgers who are co-ordinators of the Saddleworth and Oldham District Whit Friday Band Contests, to ensure we are not standing on anyone’s toes or  stalling a  Saddleworth wide contest by going ahead with our individual plans. Our enquiries have met with enthusiasm from all approached.  By restricting it to bands from the Borough of Oldham and encouraging school, training and social bands to participate as well as the established Youth, 4th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st and Championship section bands we will provide an experience to encourage younger players and learners to continue their commitment to the art and provide a community party to celebrate the downfall of Covid.  

The Brass Band Contest could be described as a “Concert with prizes “.  

We plan an inclusive contest for up to 20 brass bands only from the Borough of Oldham.

Each band will have a pre-drawn playing time 15 or a 20 minute time slot and they will perform on the elevated bandstand.  Each band will play a hymn and a march but this will be amended to satisfy the abilities of the different levels.

The Adjudicator will sit in the open allowing the juniors to see the judge is human and allowing him to also enjoy the day.  Our adjudicator, Mr Chris Wormald, comes from Bolton and holds no local allegiance.  This will also allow us to announce the name of the band playing and their competition piece.

We are trying to promote a relaxed, Sunday afternoon family party atmosphere compared to the high octane highly competitive Whit Friday Contest.

Bands to register early intent please email rothwellfrank50@gmail.com or as a last resort phone Frank on 07802 938 270.