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Easington Colliery Brass Band looking to Play on through Instrument Fundraising Campaign


Jan 8, 2017
One of the North East’s best-known colliery bands is playing its way towards a sustainable future after taking just nine months to hit the halfway point in a fundraising campaign for new instruments.
Easington Colliery Brass Band launched the campaign in April last year as a way of funding the much-needed replacement of all its instruments, which were beginning to show their age after more than 20 years of regular use.
And after securing grants and donations totalling £33,000 from a range of organisations around the region, the band has so far been able to purchase 11 new instruments.
The most recent contribution has come from regional employer the Banks Group, with a £3,000 donation from the Banks Community Fund allowing for the purchase of a new euphonium.
And as well as securing the band’s long-term future, the group’s management committee is also hoping to set up a junior feeder band which will use the existing instruments to give more local musicians the chance to play together and to one day reach the standards required to join the main band.
The Easington Colliery Brass Band, which celebrated its centenary in December 2015, is entirely self-supporting, aside from an annual donation towards the band and bandroom’s running costs from its sponsor Michael Watt.
It plays in a number of concerts and competitions around the UK every year, and aims to promote, improve, develop and maintain public education in the appreciation of the art and practice of Brass Band music.
Members are predominantly still drawn from the local area, and its band room is the last remaining building that is still in use on the County Durham coast with direct links to the area’s mining heritage.
The Band has been closely linked to the Colliery right through its history.  It played at the funerals of every single one of the 83 men and boys who lost their lives underground in the 1951 pit disaster, and still plays a memorial concert every year at these miners’ gravesides.
Peter Lawson, Easington Colliery Brass Band secretary, says: “When the Colliery closed in 1993, we received one of the first ever Lottery grants for £45,000 for a full set of instruments that has served us very well, but time has naturally taken its toll on them and the need to replace has been becoming ever more apparent if we wanted to keep playing to the high standards that we’ve always set.
“The cost of a full set of instruments has risen to around £70,000, and as we’re entirely self-funded, we don’t have this kind of money available, so we knew we had to start a campaign to raise the money we needed.
“The response we’ve had from around the region has been terrific, and generous donations like the one we’ve just received from the Banks Group give us the platform we need to secure a sustainable future for the band.
“We’ve concentrated on buying in the big instruments so far, as they’re naturally the ones that get more bumps along the way, but if we can keep the momentum that we’ve built going, we’re hoping to have completed the project in the none-too-distant future.
“Several of our members are music teachers, and they’ve already committed to providing their expertise free of charge to help a new generation of players come through the feeder band that we’re planning to set up, which will help us ensure the band has a bright future as well as a successful past.”
Chris Kelsey, communications manager at the Banks Group, adds: “Easington Colliery Brass Band is synonymous with the type of high quality music that has come from the Durham coalfields for generations, and as both a County Durham business and a part of the region’s continuing mining heritage, we’re proud to be playing our part in helping it move forward into a new musical era.”
The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.  Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.

By Emily