Whit Friday Marches 2014

The quirkily named Boobs and Brass, which was formed with the absolute aim to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign, has captured the attention of so many people both within the brass band movement and outside of it.
This wonderfully charismatic group of people, who are based in Northampton, welcomed into their numbers me, Hilary and my friend Sharon on their annual trip to play at the Whit Friday Marches.  What follows is an account of that trip.
The journey from Brighton was undertaken on a gloriously sunny Thursday, which set the scene for a fantastic day to come.  After a brief stop to refresh and admire canal boats we continued to our hosts Maggie and Keith.  Words cannot convey the thanks we offer to these wonderful people who welcomed us into their lovely home. 
After a meal at the local pub we were invited to join the Rushden Town Band, as it was their rehearsal night.  Thank you to all the players who made us feel so welcome and made this an enjoyable and unexpected night out.
Friday morning saw us all on sandwich duty; Glenis must have arrived at dawn!  The five of us buttered, filled, cut and wrapped the sandwiches for the band’s road trip. Onward to the coach, whose driver Stuart, not being a stranger to the ‘Boobs’, had decorated the front of his coach with stickers of the Band’s logo and was attired in a hot pink shirt.
On the journey we enjoyed Maggie’s sandwiches, Cynthia had baked sausage rolls and several amazing cakes and other members and supporters provided crisps, apples and chocolate biscuits. Chris and Pete organised a raffle and I have never seen so many prizes!
We arrived at the hotel and, after a brief unpacking session we were joined by our conductor for the day Stan Lippeatt, who guided us through our paces in the car park.

The theme adopted for this year’s Whits was the Oompa Loompa  from Willy Wonka, arranged by Gavin Somerset,  and this was the music that the band marched to.  Percussion section and friends were dressed according to this theme and the rest of the band was wearing their traditional pink jackets.

The whole idea of transporting a brass band on a coach to as many villages as possible in one evening to play a march on the march and then play another march in whatever is erected to be the ring, at the same time as around 100 other bands, is a tradition going back to 1884.  Logistically challenging, a policing challenge (loved the horses!) but somehow that makes the community spirit just what it should be.
We played at Lees first and then went onward to Greenfield, where I was part of something quite special… This year the Boobs Band from Yorkshire were also at the Whits and, after some tactical negotiation from some very hard working people, both bands arrived at the same time and combined to form a band of around 80 players. Led by the trombone section, equipped with pink pBones donated by Warwick Music, the band marched eight players abreast (no pun intended), and contained a goodly number of Oompa Loompa, (well done girls and guys). The dream of 80 hot pink jacketed band players on the march was realised.

We arrived at Uppermill next and ended our evening in the village of Delph.  All of the villages were really great places to spend time and play at.  The support from the people who cheered and waved their flags was phenomenal. They lined the streets and filled the towns and fields where the bands played and created a truly electric atmosphere.  I am not sure if everyone realised that at one time during the evening Bad Ass Brass were followed by Willie Wonka and the Boobs and Brass!  It could only happen at the Whits.

Back to the hotel for supper with a coach full of happy singing people, and the unbelievable and utterly funniest entertainment ever by Stan Lippeatt.  Awesome.

Who could have thought that this amazing idea for this band, simply came about from a conversation between two ladies over a cup of coffee.  It will continue to be successful, simply because of the hard team work of everyone involved, who make it run like a well-oiled machine.  I heard someone comment that this is a film in the making.  Now there’s a thought!


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