Golf course chat lands top brass band in Wigan

One of the festivals star acts, The Black Dyke Band
One of the festivals star acts, The Black Dyke Band

Former Latics chairman Dave Whelan has expressed excitement as one of the world’s greatest brass bands and a TV comedy legend come to town for Wigan Youth Zone’s fifth anniversary celebrations.

The birthday party - the annual Reet Good Beer Festival and major fund-raiser for the charity - climaxes at the Parson’s Walk site on Sunday with an appearance by the Black Dyke Band and one of its biggest fans Russ Abbot, who will MC the afternoon.

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And Mr Whelan, one of the youth zone’s most famous patrons, played a key role in securing the services of the band on the day.

In fact, it was a casual conversation between him and Russ Abbot which led to the band attending the event.

“I was having a round of golf with him,” Mr Whelan told Wigan Today.

“I didn’t know he was honorary life chairman of Black Dyke Band. I was telling him about the success we’ve had with brass bands in Wigan and he said: ‘I can get you the Black Dyke Band’.

“True to his word, he was back on the phone to me within two days and said: ‘I’ve got them for you’.”

He added: “He did it so smoothly, it was fantastic. And we are talking about champions of the world. The most famous band in the world, and he got them just like that.

“He (Russ) is looking forward to it nearly as much as we are!”

Russ Abbot will open the Sunday session of the festivities.

Current national junior champions, the Pemberton Old Wigan DW Junior Brass Band will also appear at the spectacular in a marquee at the club premises beginning at 1pm.

The festival is a major money-spinner for the youth zone and its 6,000 members who need £1.7m a year to keep it going.

Mr Whelan added: “This is a real coup. I know Russ Abbot because we both go to Barbados and have dinner together and he was up for the show.

“The band has agreed to come at quite a reduced rate which several people including me have agreed to pay for and that is so every penny raised by the £10 admission fee goes to the boys and girls’ club.”

The Reet Good Beer Festival opened on Thursday and runs until Sunday.

The Thursday (5pm to midnight) features a northern soul night (£8); the Friday (7pm to midnight) features The Cheatles (a Beatles tribute act) (£10); the Saturday (noon to 6pm) is a Bavarian afternoon with umpah band (£10) followed in the evening (7pm to midnight) by Soul and Motown (£10).

Tickets can be purchased from the website here
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