On Saturday 20th June, the village of Bugle opened their gates and closed the road with its freshly laid tarmac to the sound of brass. The West of England Bandsman's Festival at Bugle is a highlight of the brass band world and this was clear by the number of entries. There was the usual downpour of rain but this is Cornwall in June. We wouldn't expect anything else.
By the time Helston arrived though, the rain had stopped and the skies were clearing. Just before Helston Town Band took to the stage, the sun shone down for the first time that day. Was this an omen?
The players lined up to take the stage and were relaxed and smiling as though the nerves were giving way to adrenaline. Helston took to the stage in their confident manner and played the Centaur March followed by Fantasy for Brass Band. This was Helston Town Band on form thanks to Musical Director, David Johnsons' hard work, ably assisted by Kevin Johns. They were going to give the others a good run for their money.
Soon after playing, the sun once again disappeared, possibly to the same pub as most of the bands, to be followed by the Cornish Mist.
As the last bands in the championship section finished and the temperature began to drop, it was results time and the moment of truth.
There were the usual speeches and thanks, followed by the results, starting with the lower section. The atmosphere became tense and the clusters of players tightened before the announcer eventually, after a slight confusion over the trophies, got to the first section results. Helston were awarded second for the March and third for the test piece. Only beaten by Roche (1st & 1st), a band full of championship players and off to the Nationals in September, and Yeovil (2nd in the test piece) who have recently come down from the championship section. Although a win would have been great, it was still good to march back through Bugle with 2 large shields in front.
The band is busily preparing for the summer season and look forward to seeing you at one of appearances.
There is certainly no rest for the wicked in Helston, as band members now get down to some serious practice ahead of the West of England Bandsmans Festival, at Bugle, in June. However, at least they can do so knowing that Flora Day 2015 will go down in the band’s history as one of the most successful and enjoyable in recent times.
On behalf of everyone associated with Helston Town Band, thank you to all those who helped to make the day such a memorable occasion for us all.
Special congratulations to the undisputed star of the show, our Deputy Musical Director, Kevin Johns, who walked in front of the band for the first time. Thank you to Kevin’s “Chief Fashion Advisor,” Jennifer Johns, for helping him to look so resplendent in his three piece suit! Kevin - you made us all very proud.
Thank you to Kevin’s “Glamorous (?) Assistants.” Well done to Russell Harvey (7 o’ clock Dance), Martin Pascoe and Ian Harvey (Childrens’ Dance and Midday Dance) and Ian Edwards (5 o’ clock Dance). Ok - they won’t be winning any beauty contests, but they ably guided the band around the dance routes and we thank them very much!
A big pat on the back to Dan Jeffery, the man this year responsible for beating the bass drum and also to his percussion colleague, Simon Wills, who sported the biggest smile of the day and entertained fellow band members well into the evening, with his bar- top drumming and (special Radnor version of) singing!
Congratulations to Claire Ely, the clear winner of the early morning “Spingo Initiation Challenge,” who put her superior Young Farmers training to good use and proved that she is more than a match for any of our aspiring male drinkers! Well done, too, to Nick Phillips, Bethany Noall, Marika Charleston, Susan Johnson and our Professional Conductor, David Johnson, who were all taking part in their first Flora Day and “associated activities” (i.e. drinking)!
A big thank you to the numerous guest players, (many of whom took time off work) who joined us for the Children’s Dance and Midday Dance; Beccy Noall, Aly Smith, Tamsin Benner, Stephen Clapton, Denis Floyd, Gillian Allen, Steve Allen, Mary Louise Combellack, Roger Gluyas, Suzanne Ely, Mark Christophers, Cecil Bennetts, Barry Skinner, Ernie Reynolds, Viv Collins, Martin Nicholls, Kevin Dower, Tom Bassett, Robert Wilton, John Adams, Ethan Bray, Robbie Brokenshire, Matthew Bennetts, Ben Vleminckx and Tim Vleminckx.
Special thanks to our guest side drummers, Trevelyan Worth, who hot- footed it back from Cardiff for the day, at short notice, and Bobby Combellack, who was also drafted in, quite literally at the eleventh hour.
It was reassuring to see some familiar faces from the last few years back in the fold, too! Thank you to regular helpers Louise Williams and Andrew Annear and also to Kathryn Stinton, Tegen Davis, Andy Wingham, Adrian Ball, Felicity Blight, Graham Christophers, Royston Dower and Mike Hocking. Believe it or not, that special thanks also extends to two former Helston bass players… Chris Warrington (complete with entertaining shoe troubles in Cross Street) and the one and only Kevin Meagor!
Well done to Helston Concert Brass for their sterling efforts; particularly to Mark Beard, Colin Heatley, Bridget Rustell, Linda Frew and Sarah Ferris, who all took on extra playing duties!
What a fantastic turnout from all 27 members of the Training Band, some of whom were taking part for the very first time. Well done to you all and to Marika Charleston for her excellent work in tutoring you over the past few months.
Thank you to Helston photographer Allan McLaren for turning up at 6.30am to capture the band in all their glory. Watch this space for the end result, which is bound to become a Halloween best- seller!
Thanks also to the Ladies of the Godolphin Club, for providing band members with the usual, much- welcomed cooked breakfast.
Thank you for the generous collections that were gathered by our numerous helpers on the day; our Chairman Alan Trewhella, Tracey Robinson, Colin Retallack, Brian Dale, Fred Angove, David and Jenny Wingham, Lionel Endean, Danny and Sarah Reed and Amy and Helen McGroary, Claire Salter, Danielle Trathen, Dave Ensink, Emma and Georgina Roberts, Jamie King, John Boase, Laurence Penrose, Michelle Pascoe and Rosemary Jenkin and a number of the players from the concert band among them. Thanks to our Secretary, Graham Carter, for his administrative work behind the scenes and also to Ann Williams, our hard- working Treasurer.
Apologies if we have missed any names… but above all, a massive thank you toeveryone in Helston and beyond for their continuing support of the band, on Flora Day and throughout the year.
Thank you One and All!
Less than 2 weeks to go and the band are busy preparing for the day itself. We start by visiting RNAS Culdrose on Tuesday 28th for the officers and families with more rehearsals at the Epworth Hall over the next few days. Don't forget to come and support the band onMay Day. Better than just coming, why not bring your family and friends and have your rehearsal of the big day?
As the town clock strikes 7am, veteran bandsman Russell Harvey will have the special honour of leading Helston Town Band away from the Guildhall and into Meneage Street, beginning Flora Day 2015.
As the band’s longest- serving member, 80 year old Russell will be taking part in his 69th Flora Day and last year received national recognition from Brass Band England, to mark his 70 years of continuous service with the band. Only National Service has stopped him from playing on Flora Day. However, Russell is delighted to inform us that he will not be the oldest player on the day! That honour falls to 81 year old Ernie Reynolds, from Saltash, who will return to Helston, as usual, for the big day.
Walking alongside Russell and leading all four dances, for the first time, will be Deputy Musical Director, Kevin Johns. Better known as the band’s Solo Euphonium player, Porthleven-born Kevin has been a mainstay of the group for 30 years and is delighted to have the honour of leading them. Taking his place, on Euphonium, will be Helston’s Professional Conductor, David Johnson, originally from Sennen and now a serving Marine, based at Portsmouth. It will be David’s first experience of Flora Day.
As the band split into 2, and approximately 120 musicians form up in Wendron Street, for the Childrens’ Dance and Midday Dance, the familiar figure of Martin Pascoe, playing for the 51st time, will be seen heading out to the front of the band, as he takes charge of the second group and shepherds them through the town.
At 5pm, Ian Edwards takes up the baton. The Musical Director of Helston Town Concert Brass since 2013, Ian is well- known locally for his wide- ranging involvement with local musical groups, from brass and accordion bands, to country pop groups and male voice choirs.
All 27 members of Marika Charleston’s Student Brass Group have been practicing hard for the big day; for some it will be their first time, as they have been playing for less than a year. Of Marika’s students, two are adults and three are just 6 years old!
What a fantastic day for the band. We had hoped to get a top 6 result and we achieved it. This is down to the hard work and determination of all concerned. A massive thank you goes to Mr David Johnson for putting the band through their paces and leading them to a superb performance.
Our thanks also go to Clare, Louise Richard and Andrew for stepping in and especially to Kevin for all of the hard work he put into bringing the band together.
We would also like to congratulate all of the other cornish bands on their successes again this year