A TEAM of dedicated brass band musicians are being urged to blow their own trumpets to drive a novel fundraising idea aimed at saving a community-wide tradition.

The annual Saddleworth Whit Friday brass band contests are hailed as “the greatest free show on earth.” However, the colourful events, part of the rich mosaic of Whitsuntide festivities, are under threat.

Some villages which stage the contests are in difficulties finding funds to keep the contests alive.

Now Boarshurst Silver Band, who this year celebrate their 170th anniversary and enter the Championship Section next year, are promoting The Whit Friday Challenge to raise funds on a Go Fund Me page to benefit villages taking part in the spectacular.

James Garlick, aged 37, the band’s conductor for five years, explained: “We are promoting this initiative - The Whit Friday Challenge - after recently finding out the prize money alone to run Saddleworth Whit Friday comes in at a whopping £34,000.

“We decided we would try and help. All proceeds will be split between the 11 villages that take part.

“Essentially, bands have to post a video of their band playing a march, nominate three others to do the same, and then donate what they can to our Go Fund Me page.

“We are also asking the wider Saddleworth community to help with donations too.

“Everyone loves to come and watch the greatest free show on earth but often have know idea of how much it actually costs.

“It’s come to a point where some villages may not be able to continue through not being able to raise the funds required to run the contest.

“This would be dreadful —so we are asking for the support of the Saddleworth community to help out and donate what they can.

“We have already seen some contests unable to continue over the years and the Greenfield contest alone costs around £9000 to stage.

“This event has taken place every year for over 100 years with 119 brass bands taking part last year - coming from all around the world.

“There are 11 contests and the total prize money from all 11 contests is £31,580. The event is also attended by thousands, all who can enjoy the day with friends and family, watch the bands march down, then play their contest march piece - for free.

“It would be a travesty if this event could no longer go ahead.”

And he urged: “Post a video of you, your band, orchestra or music group playing a March of your choice.

“The video can be new or one that already exists. Once done, share your post far and wide, challenge three of your friends and please, please donate at least £5 to the Whit Friday Challenge GoFundMe page (don’t forget to share the link to those that you challenge).

“Let’s show everyone what we can do when we work together: All donations will be spread equally amongst the 11 Saddleworth Contests.”

He added: “We are hoping to raise £1,000. But we said that about the Jingle Bells Challenge for Music For Youth we did last year and ended up raising £4,000.

“We'll just keep increasing the target if needs be. We have had a good response from the brass band community but it would be amazing to gain more support from all the Saddleworth community.”