Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Music teacher to play for Grimethorpe Colliery band

Grimethorpe Colliery in October 1992
Image caption Grimethorpe Colliery closed in October 1992 but the band has continued

The famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band is to field a female musician in the British Open competition.

Horn player Sheona White will play with the acclaimed brass band at the contest in Birmingham in September.

The band said its records showed Ms White would be the first woman to perform with them them in a competition since the 1950s.

Other women are believed to have competed in the 1940s. The band began in 1917 as an activity for workmen.

Ms White will join the 28-strong band for a tour of Switzerland in August before the British Open - which Grimethorpe has not won since 1991 - on 4 September.

The band's manager Terry Webster has described her as "a quality horn player" who offered her services, having previously played for Foden's and the Yorkshire Building Society band.

She works as a music teacher, was named BBC Radio 2 Young Musician of the Year in 1996 and performed on the 1997 BBC charity single Perfect Day, which reached number one.

Her move leaves the Brighouse and Rastrick band as the only major UK brass band without a single woman in its ranks.

Brassed Off

Grimethorpe's band was initially funded by the colliery, a sister company and a welfare fund set up by the miners. Most of the musicians in the band worked at the mine.

It came to public attention in 1992 when - having survived the closures which prompted the miners strike of 1984 - the closure of the pit was announced by the government five days before the National Brass Band Championships at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Seventeen members of the band were still employed at the colliery and facing redundancy but they and their bandmates won the contest and were crowned brass band champions of Great Britain for only the second time.

Four years later the band provided the soundtrack music and extras for the hit film Brassed Off - the story of the fictional Grimley Colliery Band, which won a national competition days after being told the mine was to close.

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