Historic Halifax youth marching band’s future under threat

Halifax Boys' and Girls' Brigade band
Halifax Boys' and Girls' Brigade band

The 110-year-old Halifax Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade band is in danger of folding unless new members can be found.

The youth marching band was formed around 1906 and meets every Tuesday evening at Salem Methodist Church.

It leads the Halifax Charity Gala every year as well as the Remembrance Day parade, but due to the decline in membership numbers over the last few years, the band’s activities have been restricted.

It was previously a competition band, and were national champions in their class in 2013.

But the last two years has seen a significant decrease in membership numbers, putting its future under threat.

Assistant Bandmaster Gemma Horner said: “The reduction has been caused by a combination of the previous membership growing older and pursuing university and employment careers and a lack of interest from younger players to try an instrument and learn to play.

“The band cannot continue with its current levels of membership. If we do not gain interest and the next generation of younger players soon we will have no alternative but to fold.

“The current membership levels mean that the band is unable to participate in local events due to lack of numbers across all sections and as such have had to turn opportunities away, making it difficult to keep the interest of the younger members and teach them new pieces of music to progress their individual talent and contribute to their development.”

The band is run by seven volunteers who teach a variety of brass and percussion instruments. The first few sessions for newcomers are free.

Gemma says the extinction of the band would be a sad day for Halifax’s musical heritage.

“All the staff are former youth members of the band and the band holds a special place in each of our hearts. We enjoy the freedom that playing as part of a band gives us and the sense of unity and friendship that comes from being part of a close knit group of players  
“It has been an integral part of the local community for over 110 years. Within the Boys’ Brigade it is recognised as one of the oldest youth marching bands in the country.
“It is recognised as an organisation that has contributed to the development of many boys and girls over the years and offered them an opportunity to participate in something different that they would not ordinarily be able to experience.

“Most of the current members have been part of the band for at least four years and have experienced the thrill of participating in local and national events. Their parents or relatives were members before them and numerous generations of players have passed through our doors. If the band is forced to close the history will be lost and another youth activity will disappear from Halifax.”

If anyone is interested in finding out more about the band they are encouraged to search on social media at www.facebook.com/halifaxbbgb, email halifaxbbgbband@gmail.com or attend a session on a Tuesday evening between 7.30pm and 8.30pm at Salem Methodist Church.