New Buckenham Silver Band faces shutdown

An historic south Norfolk band due to celebrate its 125th birthday next year could fold if more members do not come forward soon.

Over the last decade the number of players at New Buckenham Silver Band has decreased from more than 35 to just six.

It means the musicians are having to join forces with other local bands to play in public or are having to turn down regular concert invitations.

Last year, for the first time in the band's rich history, it had to cancel its memorial performance on Armistice Day, instead sending just one cornet player to perform the Last Post.

Pauline Bott, chairman of New Buckenham Silver Band, said it would be a tragedy if the band had to shut up shop.

'There are only four or six of us who are members of New Buckenham Silver Band. Watton has a brass band as well so some of them come to help us out and between us we can make a decent sound but that's not the answer. It has worked for the last year but without the members we cannot get the subscriptions in because we have quite a big insurance to pay for the instruments and the hire of the village hall,' she said

'If it was to fold it would be such a shame because in 2012 we will be 125 years old. We have never stopped being a band through two world wars. As long as I have breath in my body I will go to practice every week and blow but I do not make a band.'

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The band, thought to be one of the oldest in Norfolk, was formed in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee.

In 1998 it received a Lottery grant to buy new instruments – many of which, including a selection of percussion instruments, now sit unused.

If the band was to fold then, as a charitable organisation, all its assets such as the instruments, music and uniforms will be returned to the Charity Commission and redistributed.

Mrs Bott said an immediate input from experienced players was needed to ensure it could honour its calendar of events, but an injection of young people was required to ensure its long term success.

'We're in the situation of many bands - we're just not cool. They're not cool enough for the youngsters. They want guitars and saxophones and those sort of things which are more like rock music although we do play quite a big selection of music,' she said.

'Music is such a wonderful thing and if they do go off to university or college or new towns to work, if they play an instrument they've instantly got a group of people who are like-minded. You make friends because there is something there, which I think is lovely, and you never lose music once you've become involved in it.'

The band meets every Thursday at New Buckenham Village Hall. Beginners' practice takes place between 7pm and 7.45pm, while full band practice takes place between 8pm and 10pm.

For more information, call Pauline Bott on 01953 860425 or visit www.nbsb.org.uk