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Hatherleigh Silver Band
In the Parish Magazine, compiled by the Rev.Banks, from 1879 onwards, the names of various Bands appear. The Volunteers were formed in the town and in 1860 a Band attached to them gave its first public performance. From then on the Band accompanied them as they marched to various places and functions. There was mention of a Brass Band, the Volunteer Band. At one time there was a Salvation Army Band, a Temperance Band, formed by the Band of Hope, as well as many Jazz Bands. A Band played for Major Pearse on his return after winning the Gold Medal at Creedmore in America and in 1883 for Mr and Mrs Oldham on their return from their honeymoon.
In 1886 a Fife and Drum Band made a fresh start under the leadership of Mr.John Chapple. After the Volunteers were disbanded and at some time before 1909, Mr.Turner formed a Town Band. The Band used to play for circuses when they came to town, when footballers won the Cup, on royal occasions - Coronations and Jubilees.
In the 1930s the bandmaster was Parson Ledbury of Meeth and the Training Officer was "Soldier John". The Band always played for the 4th June Club, and there was always a race between the Band and the Bellringers to see who could start playing first. It was known for both to be playing at 6 o'clock in the morning! The main incentive was a free meal and drink at the Royal Oak for whichever started first.
The Band disbanded with the outbreak of the Second World War. After the War, the Band held open-air dances every Saturday night in the Square. Unfortunately, from then, the late 40s through to the 1960s, very little is known about their activities.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, Bill Crocker, a prominent local businessman and dance band leader, took over as Musical Director and considerably raised the profile of the Band.
In 1975, under the direction of James Nairn, a Scotsman, the Band entered a competition for the very first time. It was at the Festival Hall in Paignton and the music was the "Lindum Suite". In 1977 the then President, Mr.T. Vallance, presented all members with a certificate for winning four competitions in one year.
In 1982 the Band made a record called "Silver Sounds of Devon". The music for this record was compiled by asking all members to write a list of what they thought should be recorded, with the most popular items then being chosen.
In 1983, Robin Wonnacott, Hatherleigh born and bred, was appointed Musical Director and continued to improve the standard of the Band making them the envy of the area. In 1993, the Band made their first cassette - "Devon Fantasy". One thousand copies were made and sold.
In 1994 another cassette was recorded in the Town Hall at Hatherleigh named "One Moment In Time", to celebrate the Band's qualification for the 1994 National Brass Band Championships held at the Wembley Conference Centre and their subsequent promotion to the Third Section in 1995.
A CD released in 2001 proved to be a great success and was recorded with one of its best bands to date. Named 'No Matter What' it brought life back to the town of Hatherleigh after the outbreak of Foot and Mouth in the area.
The Band, under the baton of Adrian Edwards another local lad since 2001 has enjoyed continued success on the contest stage and are also kept very busy with concerts, fetes and carnivals. The current membership is around 30 with plans in hand to build a permanent Bandroom with the help of National Lottery Funding.
October 2005 saw the start of the new Junior/ Training Band. 25 junior players and even a few adult learners came from across North, Mid and West Devon and still all attend regular weekly rehearsals. Their world premier concert was held at Christmas just 9 weeks later with great success and very proud parents. The future of the main band with the back up of the new players coming though proves that banding is still very strong and that the town of Hatherleigh will have a great band for a very long time to come.
June 2006 proved that the Senior Band was reaping the benefits of the Training Band. Numerous players that have progressed in to the Senior Band helped gain a 1st place in the 4th Section at Bugle Contest by a clear 3 points.
2008 saw Robin Wonnacott back at the helm and with new players joining the future of the Band is looking very promising.
In November 2009 the band were crowned SWBBA 4th Section Champions and also winners of the Best Set of Basses, the decision to bring Mr David Hayward in to help prepare the Test Piece 'Four Little Maids' proved to be a great success. Working with Robin Wonnacott during the build up to the contest, the new partnership gave the band a huge boost and Hatherleigh Silver Band were able to take the stage in a very confident mood.
The West of England Regional contest on March 13th 2010 was once again a massive day for the Band, competing against 19 other bands they came away with 2nd place and an Invitation to the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain to be held in Harrogate on Sept 26th 2010.