Support for town band as it launches bid for new HQ

PUBLISHED: 19:30 25 January 2016

Sidmouth Town Band has to squeeze into its current HQ

Sidmouth Town Band has to squeeze into its current HQ

Archant

A new HQ for Sidmouth Town Band (STB) will enable it to build from its brass roots and secure its future for another 150 years.

The group dreams of buying the town’s United Reform Church (URC) – but now needs to work out if it can raise the £500,000 needed to cover the asking price and the necessary modifications.

The band held a meeting last Thursday to brainstorm ideas and had support from past and present members and their families, the town council, the Lions Club of Sidmouth and the chamber of commerce.

If successful, the band hopes to create a performance space and a centre for brass band excellence to nurture young talent.

Musical director Adrian Harvey said: “There’s now no free musical training in schools – we have to do it ourselves.

“We need to get children and adults through the door.

“Let’s make it a centre of excellence for brass bands, so when it’s our 300th anniversary we can say this was the start of the journey.”

He said the URC is the ideal base as it would provide somewhere the band can rehearse, perform and store its extensive library – but it will also look for other premises around Sidmouth.

The asking price for the church is £350,000. Soundproofing it, adding a kitchen, making it accessible for people with disabilities and possibly converting the basement into a rehearsal space is estimated to cost another £150,000.

STB has until September to indicate its interest, by which point its leaders hope to know if they qualify for grants. The URC will retain the church hall and car park.

Treasurer Fiona Harvey said owning the church is the dream, but STB is open to arrangements such as shared ownership or sponsorship – as long as the band can keep its name.

Band chairman Martin Cordy explained that the project will not threaten the band’s future, saying: “I want the band to be here for another 100-plus years. I don’t want to do anything that jeopardises it.

“If we put the work in and think it’s a risk, I am more than happy to walk away – it’s too important culturally, for STB and for the town.”

The band is moving because it has outgrown its Woolcombe Road HQ, a Grade-II listed former barn that is owned by Sidmouth Town Council. The acoustics there mean it cannot rehearse as loudly as it performs.

STB is involved in FolkWeek and a range of civic events. Over Christmas, members visit nursing homes to bring some festive cheer.

It is also committed to training new members and offers free tuition.

Anyone else with ideas can email them to info@sidmouthtownband.co.uk.

The next meeting to discuss fundraising events has been scheduled for 7.45pm on February 11 in the Anchor Inn.

An online fundraising page is set to go live next week. Search for ‘Sidmouth Town Band’ on www.mydonate.bt.com.


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