Whit Friday: A Cornish Perspective.


Active Member
Well well well, a month on from what can only be described as an unforgettable weekend, and I think I can finally say I have recovered! The truth being of course that as a student I now have nothing constructive to do with my time for the next ten weeks so thought I’d write a few words to reflect upon my Whit Friday experiences, from the perspective of a Whit Friday virgin!

The day began very early, all too early in fact, with Bryony and Liz setting off from Cornwall at 6 am, heading straight for Exeter, first port of call being to pick up Kelly! (that’s me!) We had our driver, and what a great driver she was too, our map reader, who did an excellent job I must say, not getting us lost at all (I hope you are reading this Craig and Steve!) and then there was Liz dishing out the Red Bull and Pro-plus, throw in a couple of brass band CD’s and we had ourselves a road trip!

7 hours later, 350 miles had been covered and a considerable amount of lorry driver “eye flirting” had been achieved across 4 motorways (these new fangled contraptions that have yet to reach Cornwall…) and, we arrived, all in one piece at the Hotel.

Meeting the man himself Mr Roger Thorne and the small crowd of tmp’ers gathered around him almost seemed nerve wracking at first, though it wasn’t long before talk of Cornish Pasties made us feel at home and we were set for the rest of the afternoon, though nothing could have prepared us for the some what extravagant entry of Tmp’s very own Supersop in that infamous “quiet” shirt of his!

Moving into, what could only be described as the warmest, “makes you sweat like a pig” and any other “oh my god it’s hot” sayings you can think of, rehearsal room we got to the task in hand. Forming a rather large formation we worked our way through the chosen contest march, Knight Templar. This was also a first for me, having never played it before, except for attempting to sing how we could only imagine it should sound in the car on the way up….(well we did have 7 hours to kill!). After a couple of run throughs we had it sounding pretty damn good, and therefore moved on to the much anticipated road march. Wondering what Roger had in store for us he produced none other than Monty Python! And how apt “The Bright Side of Life” became as we sweated our way through it! After the late arrival of the Welsh contingent we were ready to go forward and take on the Whit Marches in true TMP Style. With much alcohol and merriment indeed.

After completing the first march at Greenacres I felt totally absorbed in the spirit of the Whit Marches. Despite taking part in March contests before I had never experienced anything quite like this. The atmosphere of the evening was amazing, both within the band - who I immediately felt I had known for years (despite only meeting about three hours previous to the actual contests) - and more importantly the atmosphere coming from the crowd, who turned out in there masses to support every contest.

For me this was the main highlight of the evening and something the brass banding community in the north should be very proud of. Never before have I seen so many members of the public turn out to support the bands taking part in the event. Without the support and enthusiasm from the crowds I'm sure the marches wouldn’t have felt as special as they did

This was confirmed when we arrived to play at Delph. Having heard this was “one of the best ones to do” I wasn’t really sure what to expect as we left the coach and walked up to the village. When we arrived and I looked down the street for the first time I can only describe the feeling I had as stunned and the sight, spectacular. All I could see was people! I remember thinking to myself that it felt like the entire northern population had turned out to line the streets at Delph! ( A slight exaggeration but I really wasn’t prepared for seeing this amount of people!..or having to queue out into the road just to get to a bar!)

As we made our way around the different villages - we managed five in total; Greenacres, Lees, Uppermill, Delph and Denshaw - nothing came close to the feeling I had marching through Delph. On entering the village we passed the hoards of people and could hear them actually signing along. Standing in the middle of Delph singing “Always Look on The Brightside of Life” with, what seemed like, hundreds of people is one of those moments I think will stay with me for a very long time. What's more, the elated feeling that overcame the band itself is one that was not matched anywhere else.
It was gone midnight when a coach of very happy, and ever so slightly inebriated from the warm cider, bandsmen and women returned to the hotel where the real party would begin.

Five hours of drinks, awards, cake and enough pizza to feed a small army was a great ending to a very enjoyable and eventful day. I feel I must mention Fiona’s poorly foot, and, our “sensible” moderator, Ian's collapsed in a heap on the floor act.. Nicely done both of you! There were so many memorable moments I can’t name them all or I really would be writing this for the entire ten week holiday I have ahead of me. All, however, contributed to a great experience that I shall never forget!

The sun had risen before the majority had even made it to bed - only 24 hours after we had first set off on our little adventure, and what an adventure it turned out to be! A truly amazing weekend, spent with truly amazing people. Alongside the best brass band backdrop I have experienced. I am now sitting here eagerly waiting next years, wishing to thank everyone who made this year what is was. Bring on next years Whit Marches - I cannot wait!
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