Tameside Whit Friday Brass Band Contests cancelled again

Tameside's traditional Whit Friday Brass Band Contests have been cancelled for the second successive year because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Often described as the 'greatest free show on earth', the annual musical extravaganza is always a popular event and attracts many visitors from far and wide. 

The Friends of Tameside Whit Friday Brass Band Committee said the news was announced "with heavy hearts" but "although we are disappointed we know it is the right decision" amid the ongoing situation regarding Covid-19. 

The unanimous decision to cancel the event which was due to go ahead on 28 May was made following a committee meeting held digitally on Tuesday evening (26 January). 

Committee Chairman Adam Pickles said: "Due to the ongoing pandemic, uncertainty regarding large scale events and gatherings, and the various Health and Safety aspects involved, the Friends of Tameside Whit Friday Brass Band Committee has decided to postpone the 2021 contests here in Tameside until 2022.

"This is a very difficult time for us all and we believe that the risks outweigh the benefits at the current time. Whilst this comes as a major blow following last year's postponement, we firmly believe the postponement is in the best interests of all groups involved: bands, organisers, volunteers and the wider public.

"Whilst we want to apologise for any inconvenience and disappointment this may cause, we can assure you all this decision has not been an easy one to make and has not been taken lightly. 

"This year, we will once again be supporting Foden's online Whit Friday Contest and are investigating a number of exciting ideas for the autumn. More information and details will be shared as these ideas develop, we want to support grassroots banding as much as we can. 

"We cannot stress how important the Whit Band Contests are to our committees and volunteers, the 140-plus year legacy and heritage holds a special place in our hearts and we will do everything we can to ensure it continues and flourishes moving into 2022 and beyond!" 

Cllr Leanne Feeley, Tameside Council’s executive member with responsibility for culture, said: “The Whit Friday contests are part of Tameside’s soul and stretch back deep into our history, so I’m pleased that while the bands can’t be out across the borough in the usual way people will still have the opportunity to enjoy them virtually.

“I understand what has prompted the committee to make its decision as public safety has to be at the heart of everything we do. I look forward to the band contests returning on June 10, 2022, and also to learning more about the committee’s ideas for the autumn.”

It follows the news earlier this week that Saddleworth's Whit Friday Brass Band Contests have also been cancelled this year

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