Ireland Colliery Chesterfield Band heads for national championships

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In the world of brass players Ireland Colliery Chesterfield Band is special.

This trail-blazing band has reached the national championships four years on the trot and risen to the first division from fourth in as many years.

Ireland Colliery Chesterfield Band

Ireland Colliery Chesterfield Band

As the only performing colliery band in Chesterfield borough its achievements in a tough economic climate continue to instill pride in the residents of the town and surrounding area.

Band chairman Graham Weighill said: “The main colliery bands in the area ceased to exist when funds disappeared with the decline of the coal industry.

“Members of the band are determined to ensure that Ireland Colliery Chesterfield Band remain part of the heritage and arts culture of the area.”

Keeping the band at the top of its game is an expensive business and members are busy raising funds to cover the £7,000 needed to compete at the national championships in Cheltenham in September. Euphonium player Martin Squires said: “We will get there - but we’d rather go by bus than walk.”

Fundraising concerts over the coming months should help towards the costs but the band is also appealing for ongoing sponsorship from businesses and individuals.

The band’s principal sponsor is Conceptunet, which is based in Halfway. Company chiefs at packaging firm Robinsons also support the band by enabling it to use a former manufacturing unit on Dock Walk, Chesterfield, as its base.

The accommodation makes the musicians the envy of others, providing enough space for the main band and training band to practice in separate rooms, storage rooms for instruments to be locked away, a committee room and an office.

The band’s expenses aren’t just limited to raising money to take part in competitions. Replacing instruments of the 25 brass players and three percussionists in the main band comes with a hefty price tag of £99,000, with a B flat bass the most expensive at £6,000.

Musical director Ian Knapton said: “We are looking for any business to continue support for our training band.

“Our main aim is to keep this band alive for the next 100 years.”

For a full feature on the band, see this week’s Derbyshire Times.