Pandemic Robs Eagley of National Title Opportunity In Our 170th Year

by Deb Lyons

Today’s official announcement by the organisers of the National Brass Championship Finals of Great Britain that this year’s 2020 finals, scheduled to take place in late September down in Cheltenham, have definitely been cancelled due to the pandemic has, on the surface, come as no real surprise to anyone. It was a decision which, although only announced today, on Thursday July 9th by Kapitol Promotions, everyone had expected for some weeks, but now it is official, the clarity has very quickly brought home many ramifications of the Covid-19 virus.

As has been widely publicised, 2020 is Eagley Band’s 170th anniversary year having been formed way back in the winter of 1850 and therefore one of the oldest brass bands in the world. Each and every year it is extremely difficult to qualify for the National Brass Championship Finals of Great Britain as the only way to do this is to play superbly in the Spring regional area contests and be judged by the adjudicators to have finished in the top three places at the Blackpool Opera House and Winter Gardens complex in late February. This year, Eagley accomplished this feat to the delight and thrill of all the players and Musical Director Chris Wormald. Within hours of the results being announced a top quality hotel in Cheltenham was booked, a luxury band coach was booked, everything was organised with the current band’s usual swift efficiency and the set test piece bought on the day that the title was announced.

As we all know, the world changed completely by mid-March and with today’s announcement, the pandemic has now officially robbed Eagley Band and all of the other excited finalists throughout the UK of the opportunity to become National Champions of Great Britain in September. It remains to be seen how the 2021 brass band contesting season will now pan out and how all of the many complex issues of promotion and relegation will take effect.