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Norfolk Wherry Brass: National Champions

Cheltenham RacecourseOn Saturday 22nd September, Norfolk Wherry Brass travelled to The Centaur at Cheltenham Racecourse to take part in the 4th Section of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain. The band, under the direction of its director of music Andy Craze, was drawn to play 9th out of a total of 23 bands. These bands all qualified in the top two or three in their regional finals which took place throughout Great Britain in spring this year.

The first band started playing a little behind schedule just before 3pm with the last band finishing around 10.30pm. All 23 bands played a new piece of music written by 17 year old Jonathan Bates especially for the contest. Jonathan is currently tenor horn player for the world famous Black Dyke Band and was on stage to meet the winners. The piece, in five movements, was called “A British Isles Suite” and is a musical exploration of poetry from around the British Isles.

Tension was building as the final band ended their performance and the bands awaited the decisions of the two adjudicators, Mike Kilroy and Colin Hardy.

Slowly the top six bands were announced in reverse order and when the second band was announced we had not been mentioned – was it zero or hero. Well it was hero and Norfolk Wherry Brass was crowned 4th Section Champions of Great Britain. We were the only band in all five sections from Norfolk and Suffolk to qualify for this year’s National Finals and as far as we are aware we are the only band from Norfolk ever to win a National Championship title in any section.

With the title came the award of the National Challenge Trophy for the band, the NCC Trophy for the band’s Contest Secretary, Yvonne Owers, and a framed music stand banner depicting our success. A cheque for £1000 was also received, which will help towards the cost of the trip and promotion to the 3rd section. Leigh Sharpe, our principal cornet player, was also awarded the trophy for the Best Instrumentalist in the contest.


For all the photos from the preparations before, the waiting during and the celebrations afterwards, visit our photo gallery!