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Cheltenham calling for town band

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By Newsdesk
Annan and Eskdale
Cheltenham calling for town band

ANNAN Town Band are tuning up for a trip to a top national competition next weekend.

The band will travel to Cheltenham to compete at the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain on September 19: their second trip to the national finals in four years.

And despite a 12-month break in their rehearsal schedule as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the reigning Scottish champions are feeling optimistic about their chances at the competition.

Committee member Charlotte MacKay said: “Since we were able to re-start group rehearsals in May our progress has been really good, I think everyone is just excited to be back playing together again.

“The set piece we have to perform in Cheltenham, Lions of Legend by Thierry Deleruyelle, has sections in it which would challenge top level championship bands, but I think our band has really risen to the challenge

“Of course we would love to add a British title to our list of achievements and bring the trophy home to Scotland, but as long as we do ourselves and Annan proud on the day that’s all that really matters.”

Annan Town are no strangers to top level competition, having qualified for the British Championships on seven previous occasions over the last three decades.

They also represented Scotland at the European championships in Switzerland in 2019, before finally securing their first Scottish Championship title last year under the baton of musical director Andrew Warriner.

And the group have had to draw on all this experience to overcome the additional challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Players live across Dumfries and Galloway and Cumbria, meaning some were legally prohibited from travelling to rehearsals when restrictions first started to ease.

Band secretary Samantha Bryden said: “The band room above the Blue Bell Inn has been our home for almost 30 years, but we had to temporarily relocate to ensure everyone can socially distance when we’re rehearsing.

“We’re very grateful to the committees at Annan United Reform Church and Brydekirk Village Hall and staff at the Corner House Hotel for providing us with rehearsal facilities over the last few months, although we hope to be back in the band room very soon.

“The band is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year, and we were fortunate to secure funding from the Holywood Trust, National Lottery and Tesco to help us get to Cheltenham and secure the future of the band for many more years to come.

“Above all, the commitment, determination and enthusiasm from our players has been fantastic, and hopefully our hard work will be rewarded with a good result in Cheltenham.”

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