Former members of carnival bands from across Derbyshire and the East Midlands including the Derby Serenaders, the Spondon Legionnaires, The Ambassadors of Borrowash and the Melton Mowbray Toy Soldiers have snapped up tickets for the Banding Together celebration on Sunday, July 24.
The event will take place on Borrowash Victoria Football Club’s grounds, in the shadow of the now derelict Asterdale Club where members of the local banding community used to get their groove on at large-scale discos to relax after hours of hard parading.
Ex-carnival bander David Chabeaux, who appeared in the final scenes of the BBC series Peaky Blinders, as well as Hollyoaks, the Sky Atlantic series Bulletproof, plus the forthcoming Netflix horror drama Red Rose, has organised the celebration.
There will be the chance for ex banders to show off some of their carnival-honed skills by playing music or doing some marching on the day, as well as appear on camera in a documentary David is making about carnival bands and what they meant to the thousands of people in the East Midlands who once took part in around 100 bands across the region.
The Banding Together is a fundraiser for David’s film and social change project, Moz’s Band. The film is titled after David’s grandfather, Moz Ward, whose inspirational leadership led his own band, the Derby Serenaders, to three European and 23 UK marching band titles and an appearance on the BBC’s The Generation Game. David himself grew up in the Derby Serenaders where he learned to play no fewer than 11 instruments.
He hopes his film will springboard social change work in local communities to bring back the sense of belonging and kinship that the movement brought to all those involved.
David said: “It’s a testament to the power of the community and belonging that was felt by all those involved in the carnival banding movement around the East Midlands that we have had such an enthusiastic response to our Banding Together event.
“The strength of feeling and sense of belonging that banding brought to so many people is clearly just as strong now as it was when these fabulous bands were at their height. But our day is not just for people who were involved, we are putting on a really fun day out for all the family which we think will be just the ticket in these days when hopefully the worst of the pandemic is behind us and people can come along and enjoy a great celebration in the sunshine once again.”
The Banding Together event, which runs from midday to midnight, will feature all the fun of the carnival with stalls, stands, inflatables, beer tent and candy floss, plus walking football, ‘A Parade of the Band Uniforms’, live music and a prize raffle. There will be a giant cinema screen showing archive film footage of the bands in action back in the day, and the chance for people to contribute to a unique ‘history of banding’ mural recording their precious memories. It will all be topped off with a classic ‘old school’ disco complete with outdoor dance floor!
Sharon Watson, from Spondon, is one of those who will be coming along to the day. The former West Park School pupil grew up in banding as a member of the Derby Serenaders, which involved weekly practices, Sunday morning parades and get-togethers on Fridays.
She said: “It was an amazing time. My mum met my dad through banding. It just became one big family, and we had these massive family events. There were more than 40 of us in the Serenaders and lots of my family were in other bands as well. At school, loads of my friends were involved so there was this fantastic camaraderie. I started off on the tambourine and cymbals, then I played the drum before moving on to the saxophone. It wasn’t just about the banding. It was more like a community, a family. It was almost like we just had this one connection. It would be great to see plenty of people coming to the Banding Together event, not just who were involved but perhaps just enjoyed seeing the bands strut their stuff back in the day!”
Another ex-bander who will be enjoying the festivities is trumpet player Ray Banks, of Borrowash, who was also born into banding, playing in the Spondon Legionnaires for many years before joining The Ambassadors of Borrowash – one of the few bands which still exists.
He said: “Banding was a way of life. In those days, if you wanted to go out and socialise and meet your friends, you had hobbies, so it was a very important thing to do. Most villages had their own carnival bands. Everybody would say who was involved that they were the best years of their lives.”
Tickets for the Banding Together day are priced £8 and available by calling 07437 160832, or by visiting www.mozs.band/tickets. The on-the-door ticket price is £10.