A SADDLEWORTH village has sounded a resounding clarion call to keep the spirit of the community’s legendary Whit Friday alive.

Described as “the greatest free show in Earth”, the annual colourful spectacle was scheduled to take place on Friday, June 5, but has been cancelled because of the pandemic.

However, villagers in Diggle are inviting families to enter personal photographs from past Whit Friday glories in a novel competition.

Lynda Elmore, chair of Diggle Whit Friday Committee, said: “Whitsuntide brings together generations of families to take part in a glorious celebration of Christianity. This year, we hope to remind the village we can reminisce about years past, and plan towards next year all at the same time.

“Families and individuals will have special memories of what Whit Friday means to them, and we would love to hear those stories.

“Grandparents, children, Sunday school teachers, and bandsmen and women all have images of their own experiences. So please send them in. We can make this year’s Whitsuntide last until autumn if we need to!”

John Eccles is president of Diggle Band Club, which has just completed a major refurbishment.

He said: “I want photographs of families and friends having a brilliant time, If they are playing in the band then that’s ok.

“We will frame the best thirty and when we open our doors again we will have the pictures displayed in the club for people to come and vote for what they consider to be the best.

“Then at the Christmas Carol Concert by Diggle Band - should the current crisis permit - we can have a awards ceremony and present t winners with certificates and prizes.

“The competition is open to anyone in Diggle and the photographs can either be in hard copy or digital format, taken with your camera or even your phone. What matters is the content, something that makes people smile and remember all the Whit Fridays gone by.

‘The Band Club will pay for the frames and printing we just require the photograph, who took it, when it was taken and if possible a title for it so we can caption each entry.”

Meanwhile, community stalwart Rick Eckersley has suggested: “ Greatest (Lockdown) Free Show on Earth - Garden Party” event, via social media, incorporating a salute and clap to the NHS and carers.

He said: “There could be afternoon tea and those with the talent to play a brass instrument strike up there tunes at various points throughout the day – ‘Hail Smiling Morn’ as the favourite.

"The lockdown will not and cannot silence the sound of brass echoing throughout the Diggle valley. Our bond has always been strong and is forging an even stronger path through these very testing times."

He added: “We may not march this year but we will fill the air with joy."

Entries open on Monday, June 1 and the closing date is Wednesday, July 1. Information how to enter will be on all of Diggle Social Media groups in the coming days.