12 Articles

Spectrum Sunday And A Band Picnic Lunch!

by Deb Lyons

For the second time in the last three weeks, we at Eagley Band have once again spent a fantastic Sunday in the bandroom with our MD Chris Wormald preparing for our debut contest in the First Section at Blackpool in two weeks‘ time.

After a full 7 hours of individual sectional rehearsals with Chris at the end of January, this time on February 13th we organised a full length rehearsal Sunday complete with band picnic lunch, where all of the Cornets and the full Horn section rehearsed the whole morning with Chris, the full band including all three percussionists arrived at 12 noon bringing with them hot pasties, sandwiches, sausage rolls, cakes, biscuits, crisps, tea, coffee, milk and soft drinks for a band picnic lunch and social until 1pm, then we had a full band rehearsal for an hour until 2pm, at which point all Cornets and Horns went home and the rest of the day was spent rehearsing the full Baritone, Trombone, Euphonium and Bass sections until 3.30pm as can be seen.

Once again we had a great Sunday and the piece has really improved with just two weeks to go to the North West Areas at the Opera House Winter Gardens. We are all really looking forward to the challenge of playing in the First Section for the very first time, especially as the pandemic lockdowns meant we were not allowed to play a single note for more than half of the time we were a Second Section band, only just promoted up from Third Section!

Spectrum and the First Section will be great challenges, but the band has improved hugely since Christmas. Here’s to our Blackpool performance!

National Brass Band Championship Finals of Great Britain 2021

by Deb Lyons

Over the weekend of Saturday September 18th and Sunday September 19th, all of us at Eagley Band were really proud to be based at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel down in Cheltenham, having qualified for the 2021 National Brass Band Championship Finals of Great Britain through our excellent North West Area Blackpool result from February 2020 before the Covid pandemic lockdowns of the previous year.

The National Finals weather was scorching for much of the time and a brilliant weekend was enjoyed by all of us, with the opportunity to explore the excellent shops, parks, gardens, eateries and centre of Cheltenham (birthplace of Gustav Holst, composer of The Planets), the opportunity for another excellent band meal together on the Saturday evening, organised to perfection by Janet Walsh, and finally the opportunity to represent the North West in the Second Section of the National Brass Band Championship Finals of 2021 on the Sunday afternoon.

On the day of the contest, Sunday September 19th, everyone in the band was up bright and early and in breakfast by 8.30am. Having checked out of our rooms, we rehearsed in the hotel from 10.30am through to noon, and sounded superb. Our MD Chris was clearly thrilled with the tuning and the standard and the atmosphere within the band was brilliant. After a few, initial early morning nerves, the playing became relaxed and focused and the vibe within the band was electric as we awaited the draw for order of play to take place at 12.30pm.

Our Chair and Band Manager Deb Lyons attended the draw and we were allotted the number 7 for order of play, a really good draw except that it immediately followed the contest favourites who had drawn number 6, and so often this affects the final placings dramatically, as would be the case for us on this occasion regrettably.

We took to the stage at around 4.30pm and at the conclusion of our performance, led brilliantly as always by our Principal Cornet Lynsey Hayes, the audience applauded with considerable enthusiasm. At the half way stage, website Four Bars Rest had Eagley in 2nd place, narrowly behind the predicted winners, and we would remain in 2nd place for the rest of the contest until the very final band of the seventeen able to accept their qualifications and attend. Prior to the announcement of results, the 4BR correspondent had Eagley Band in 3rd Place, predicted to win the £500 prize and 3rd Place trophy. Very sadly for us, and inexplicably in a variety of ways, in the results ceremony at 9pm, Eagley Band wasn’t mentioned or featured in the top 6 placings at all and we were soon to discover that rather than finishing in 3rd place, we were placed third from the bottom, in 15th position. This was clearly a shock to everyone and a very unpleasant and unwelcome one, but that’s contesting! It is doubtful that anyone listening to all seventeen bands in the hall would have placed our performance anywhere near the wrong end of the seventeen or even close to the bottom half, but sadly the only opinions which matter thought so and did exactly that, and our long journey back up the M5 and M6 was a far less enjoyable one than the journey down had been.

Overall, our Cheltenham experience was a really positive and highly enjoyable one, barring the surprise result after the way in which we, and other bands, had played. Due to the imposed national lockdowns, we hadn’t performed together as a full band in public since the Winter Gardens in February 2020 (Blackpool Areas) and after almost twenty months without performing under the pressure of an audience and nerves, everyone gave everything they had on stage. To have achieved such a performance in a matter of weeks from being allowed back to play was a great triumph and a huge thrill for everyone involved to experience.

Its official… we have been promoted to the 1st Section from January 2021.

by Deb Lyons

Our promotion from 3rd to 1st Section is a fabulous reward to all the loyalty of everyone from Lilly right around to Breeny and everyone in between. We couldn’t list all of the players who have been on this Eagley journey and the loyalty is very much appreciated.

When Chris Wormald took over as MD at Eagley in September 2016, during this time Eagley has accomplished many firsts. A range of large concerts at the Victoria Hall with Smithills Community Band & Choir supporting local charities, 2 professional CDs, 4 trophies from Ripon, Butlins, Amboise and Blackpool just a few weeks ago together with prize money of £1,500. Eagley is not just about the music, we make sure there is a wide range of social events throughout the year such as meals to suit every taste, socials, quizzes and we give a big thanks to Geoff  and Janet and others have kindly organised. 

As the country struggles during this unsettling of the  COVID19 pandemic, Eagley like many other bands have families and friends who are front line or key workers.
From all of us at Eagley Band we want to say THANK YOU to all those we know and those we don’t. You are all in our thoughts and prayers.
We can’t wait to see everyone when we come through the other side.

Promotion To The First Section And Qualification For The 2020 National Brass Band Finals of Great Britain!

by Deb Lyons

As a result of our performance in the Second Section at the North West Area Brass Band Contest Winter Gardens in Blackpool on Sunday afternoon, February 23rd 2020, we at Eagley Band and our MD Chris Wormald were not only awarded Third Place in the contest, a silver trophy and prize money too but we have now qualified for the 2020 National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain Finals being held in Cheltenham this September! All of this in our 170th year too!With brass band sections being very much like league tables in sport, with annual promotion and relegation, only three years ago Eagley Band had been in the Third Section for many years. Now, after a string of excellent contest performances we have been promoted twice in just three seasons and find ourselves a First Section Band from next year!

As we were formed in 1850, this year Eagley Band celebrates 170 years of existence, one of the oldest brass bands in the entire World. Only once since 1990 has the band qualified for the National Brass Band Championship of Great Britain Finals back in 2008 when the band was in the Third Section. Thirty years ago, in March 1990, Eagley won the North West Area Championships Third Section conducted in his very first ever Area contest by our new MD then – a much younger Chris Wormald during his first spell with an adult band!

We can next be heard performing in Bolton at the Mayor of Bolton’s Charity Ball in the Town Hall on Friday evening March 6th and after that in our Prostate Cancer UK Charity Concert on behalf of the Bolton Lions Club at the Victoria Hall on Saturday April 18th.


Butlins Contest Weekend 2020

by Deb Lyons

In spite of the stunning victory we all enjoyed at Ripon Contest, our MD Chris Wormald described our performance at Butlins 2020 as “by far the best the band has played in a contest” since he came back to the band in 2016.

Internet site Four Bars Rest had already installed Eagley as pre-contest favourites to win the 2020 Butlins 2nd Section and take the £2,000 First Prize and following our outstanding performance from draw No.1 on the day, and the conclusion of the six hour, eighteen band section, they still had the top two places as Hade Edge and Eagley bands.


Four Bars Rest ‘live’ comments on the day described our Eagley performance of the set test piece “Galdhoppigen” by Simon Kerwin as “a reading typical of the MD, real attention to detail, especially tuning” and “allowed the music to shine through and give the players a chance. Very musical” and “not a performance to discount from the mind.”

Unfortunately for us all at Eagley, superbly led by our Principal Cornet Lynsey Hayes, the announcement of results in the evening went from being the most exciting and highly anticipated event into one of huge anti-climax and disappointment as we were placed fifth of the eighteen bands. Although the winners were happily conducted by a former Eagley Cornet player of ours and pupil of our MD, the wonderful Jonathan Fearn.

Happily for us all, aside from the result of the contest, our Skegness weekend was another fantastic one and featured many meals together, watching other bands, swimming and general socialising. Our performance of the test piece will live long in all of our memories and a huge congratulations to everyone on stage representing Eagley at the start of our 170th year.

2019 French Open Championships Third Place And 500 Euros!

by Deb Lyons

We have just returned from a fantastic weekend in Amboise, winning 500 Euros at the 2019 French Open Brass Band Championships in Amboise by virtue of finishing Third Place in the Second Section of the contest this weekend.
For the past twenty five years the annual French Brass Band Championships have taken place at the exact same time as the French Open Tennis and huge crowds turn out to watch brass bands from all over the world take part.

The brass band competition is in three parts. Firstly, an indoor set test piece programme of 25 minutes is performed in the Theatre Beaumarchais where every band plays the prescribed set test (Rhapsody In Brass in the 2nd Section) and other own choice items. Secondly, there is an outdoor marching contest which takes place through the town centre of Amboise and finally there is an outdoor entertainment contest where every band must play 25 minutes of own choice music to a large crowd and which takes place with the stunning backdrop of Amboise Castle. A gala concert and results ceremony then takes place at 9pm in the evening.

To see highlights from our trip click on our Gallery Link 

Great Performance And Result At Blackpool!

by Deb Lyons

Sunday February 24th saw every almost every adult brass band based in Lancashire and Greater Manchester head over to Blackpool Winter Gardens for the annual North West Area Brass Band Championships and we at Eagley were no exception!

 Having been promoted to the Second Section just a year ago, the band could have been forgiven for having fairly low expectations of the outcome of the 2019 Areas, but in typical CJW fashion, we prepared as if we were going to win the contest – and our performance on the day certainly justified our MD’s unwavering beliefs!

 Very happily for all Second Section bands this year, our section contest was held in the magnificent and iconic Opera House, the same venue within the Winter Gardens complex as the mighty Championship Section which would follow on from ours. With an excellent draw of No.11 from within the seventeen competing bands, Eagley took to the stage in thoroughly well prepared, confident and surprisingly relaxed mood and we delivered one of our best ever performances at the Areas, confirmed and evidenced by a number of excellent recordings which surfaced after we had played. 

Our excellent rendition from start to finish of the late Darrol Barry’s “Rise of The Phoenix” had everyone in the band full of the highest expectation when it came to the results ceremony, with the internet site Four Bars Rest placing Eagley in second; Runners-Up of the 2019 Second Section and not only qualifiers for the National Brass Band Finals in Cheltenham later in the year but, as a result, promoted to the First Section only fourteen months after being a Third Section band with almost all the same players. As results were announced from the stage, and knowing that everyone in the band could not have played any better either individually or collectively, Eagley were read out in Fourth Place, sadly not runners-up as had been predicted in the light of our outstanding performance. Clearly our excellent performance was one which could, on another day, have found favour with the adjudicators and without doubt won the contest or finished anywhere in the top few bands. However, to be placed fourth in the section was an excellent outcome, only spoiled in that it was the top three placed bands which were to qualify for the National Finals, so our placing was tantalisingly close to that additional achievement as well as being promoted to the First Section from next year had we finished in third place or higher.

Click here to see photos from Blackpool

Bolsover Entertainment Contest – Sunday 30th September 2018

by Deb Lyons

Our first experience of the huge Bolsover Entertainment Contest down in Chesterfield was both a superb but ultimately unsuccessful one on Sunday September 30th!

The contest day itself was excellent in every way for us all at Eagley, from the fantastic morning rehearsal in our band room, complete with our new black shirts, the coach journey down to Chesterfield and everything that had been carefully timed out and planned. We had pre-drawn to play fifth in the Second Section of the contest but out of the fifty bands who had entered the event, there were withdrawals in all sections both above and below, so we ended up being Band No.4 in our section and played superbly well.

With every performance being officially streamed live over the internet via websites and social media by the organisers, our performance and that of every other band on the day in the two halls was available for all to see and hear worldwide.

The written adjudicator comments by Mr Dave Lea were completely positive throughout, from ‘excellent opening’ (Birdland) to ‘great choice of march (The Wizard) and the tempo is perfect’ before making numerous positive and entirely complimentary comments from ‘good choice’ to ‘very well played’ with regard to all of our programme (Saving All My Love For You played by Janet Walsh on Flugel Horn, the Genesis song Turn It On Again and our finale of Firebird Final Hymn by Stravinsky featuring our excellent Solo Euphonium player Caitlin Stranks who, as ever, was note perfect under great pressure on the day).

At the announcement of results it was therefore massively disappointing to be placed 8th after such a list of high praise in writing and almost nothing negative scripted at all, especially having won our only other Entertainment Contest with MD Chris Wormald at Ripon last June. The scripted, written comments of the adjudicator certainly didn’t match up to his placing!

To see more highlights from the day, visit our Gallery Page.

To see a video of our performance visit our Video section on our Facebook Page.