Northumberland community band attracts members from eight up to 74

Whittonstall Community Band was set up earlier this year and has attracted members from across the community

Ben (8 years old), John Bell (74 years old) and the Whittonstall Community Band
Ben (8 years old), John Bell (74 years old) and the Whittonstall Community Band

There may be decades between members, but this Northumberland community band proved age is just a number when it comes to making great music.

The Whittonstall Community Band played its inaugural concert to a large crowd at the village church showing off their wide range of musical talent, as well as the wide-ranging age of members.

From eight up to 74, the community group has brought together musicians from all eras of the community thanks to a grant of £2,351 from the RWE Innogy UK Kiln Pit Hill Wind Farm Community Fund.

The band, with members from Whittonstall, Ebchester and Rowlands Gill, was set up after Jo Holmes who realised that a lot of people in her small village in Northumberland played instruments but lacked a band for their musical outlet.

The grant, from the fund held by the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, enabled the band to purchase equipment, advertise to local communities and hire a band leader who creates accessible scores that can be played by people of all ages.

Jo said: “We carried out a partial parish plan about three years ago and I was surprised how many people played instruments and I knew from living in a rural area that it’s really hard for children in particular to play in any ensembles or bands. We were amazed by the response, we had 27 turn up and a lot of them we didn’t know who lived in our parish. I think in some ways children are more used to be around adults but where I’ve really seen the benefit is with adults integrating with children in the community.”

Their first concert began with the theme tune from The Muppets followed by a solo rendition of ‘She’ll be coming round the mountain’ by eight-year-old Ben, the youngest member of the band.

The band collectively chose their own set which ranged from a Beatles medley to modern-day hits from Disney films such as Frozen and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Kathryn Harries, UK community investment officer for RWE Innogy UK, said: “The Whittonstall Community Band perfectly demonstrates the good that community funding can do.

“Not only does it bring together an eclectic mix of people of all ages and from neighbouring communities but it has also given them an opportunity to do what they love doing; and that’s playing live music.

“We are proud to be associated with such projects and are committed to helping the local community in the years to come.”

Su Legg, fund manager at the Community Foundation added: “There is a particular problem in rural areas where members of the community can feel isolated at times. Community philanthropy plays a vital role in helping community groups such as Whittonstall Community Band make contact with such individuals. A community band is a fantastic opportunity for people of all ages to come together and celebrate a common love of music.”

The RWE Innogy UK Kiln Pit Wind Farm Community Fund is currently open for applications from community groups in the parish of Shotley Low Quarter. Applications can be made in the region of £250 to £15,000. For more information visit www.communityfoundation.org.uk/apply

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