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Top brass: Foden’s win national title

Talented musicians from Foden’s Band have once again put Sandbach on the map with a 14th win at the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain.

On Saturday at London’s Royal Albert Hall, the band wowed the judges and brought home the trophy.

Jubilant band manager Mark Wilkinson described performing in front of a 4,000-strong audience as “nerve-racking”.

Prior to Saturday’s competition the Foden’s musicians had only played two in-person concerts together due to 18 months of covid restrictions.

Foden’s has now won the brass band world’s coveted competition no less than 14 times in its illustrious history, which goes back to 1900.

The band was up against 18 others at the weekend having won the North West area competition in February 2020 for the fifth successive year.

At the Albert Hall on Saturday each band had to perform the set piece entitled Heroes by Bruce Broughton, an Oscar nominated and Grammy award-winning film composer.

Under the direction of conductor Russell Gray, Foden’s received a “fantastic” reaction and ovation from the audience and were later crowned winners.

Mr Wilkinson, who plays principal cornet, said: “After our performance on Saturday, the talk was the title would either go to Foden’s or the Corey Band from South Wales, which won the competition in 2019. They came second this time.”

He added that it had been good to return to in-person rehearsals and concerts, saying: “Since restrictions were eased, the band has performed two in-person concerts, one at Gawsworth Hall and the other at Sandbach School so it has been nice to be back performing in front of a live audience. But it was quite nerve-racking to be performing in front of an audience of 4,000 in the Albert Hall on Saturday after not doing much for 18 months and with the added pressure of being in a competition.”

Mr Wilkinson said Foden’s was “very proud of its history and roots in Sandbach”, adding: “The band has been here since the early 1900s and has a supporters group of 400 members, most of whom live in Sandbach.” After the championship-winning performance on Saturday, Brass Band World magazine tweeted: “We’ve just heard something very, very special from Foden’s. What a breathtaking, emotionally moving performance that was … it’s hard to find the words so let’s just say that it had everything … it’s hard to imagine a more complete account of Heroes.”

Having last won the national title in 2018 part of Foden’s prize then was to represent England at the European Brass Band Championships in 2020 that was due to have been held in Palanga, Lithuania.

But due to covid the contest was postponed until May 2022 at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham.

The Foden’s contingent travelled down to London on Friday and performed a concert that evening at Regent Hall, a chance to test Heroes in front of Mr Broughton who was there as the band’s guest.

After being crowned champions and lifting the trophy again, half of the band stayed in London on Saturday night and the rest returned to Sandbach by coach.

Mr Wilkinson said: “The band is rehearsing at Bradwall Village Hall tonight (Thursday) and we plan to finish early for a bit of a celebration!”

The newly-crowned UK champions will be showing off the trophy when they perform back on home turf next Sunday (17th October) at the Allan Littlemore Memorial Concert at Sandbach School, Crewe Road. The concert is free of charge and not ticketed.

Mr Littlemore was a lifelong supporter of Foden’s Band, was its manager from 1975-1990 and had once been head of personnel at Foden’s Motor Works.

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