The Butlins resort in Skegness is the host for the Mineworkers Championships, and whilst Skegness is not everyone’s ideal choice for a visit in January, it is a highlight in most brass banders’ calendars, both from a playing and a social perspective.

This would be the bands' first appearance at the Butlins contest, and our first contest in the First Section, since 2017. The set work was ‘Symphonic Episodes for Brass Band’ arranged by Mike Kilmartin (previously the bands soprano cornet player).

Preparing for any contest is time consuming, but when the contest is immediately after the Christmas period, preparation can be even more difficult due to bands having many Christmas engagements, and of course spending the festive season with their families. Many of our players gave up time with the friends and family or rearranged plans to be able to make rehearsals, and we would like to thank everyone for their hard work and commitment.

Contest day started with a quick rehearsal at the nearby Ship Inn (who kindly provided breakfast too) before making our way back to the main site to await our turn to compete. Twelve bands took to the stage in our section, and we were hoping for a good result to kick start our year.

We performed our piece in the Centre Stage Arena, and while it was not perfect, we came off stage feeling happy with the performance overall. The results would be announced later in the evening along with the rest of the lower sections.

Sadly, while both adjudicators enjoyed and praised the bands’ performance with particular reference to the bands’ sound and our soloists, they felt that we had lost some of the detail and clarity in the piece. This led to an overall placing of 10 out of 12 despite the remarks being generally positive. This was not the way we wanted to begin our year on the contest circuit, or back in the First Section.

Despite a disappointing result, our band still made the most of our weekend away as a team (and with family members who also joined us) enjoying a couple of nights socialising with each other, friends in other bands, group meals, swimming and bowling. We may not have gotten the result we wanted (or felt we deserved), but we are still a team both on and off the stage.

Our next contest will be the Yorkshire Regional Championships in March and with a new test piece, the band will use the feedback to build on and hope that our musical endeavours will bring bigger rewards than our trip to Skegness.