Published on February 10th, 2017 by gavin

Foden’s Patrons To Celebrate 30 Years

2017 marks the 30th anniversary of the ‘Foden’s Patron Society’ which now boasts over 400 members.

In June 1987, three local supporters of the band formed the society to raise funds and provide support to the band. In exchange, the band promised a free concert once per year in addition to regular newsletters reporting the successes of the band as well as discount on concert tickets and merchandise. All of which the band are extremely proud to have continued over 30 years.

A spokesperson for the band told A4B: ‘The origins of the society begin in the mid 1980s. The band had begun to circulate a quarterly newsletter to regular supporters. This then developed to include a monthly raffle which was used in order to raise funds for the band. The band manager of the time, Allan Littlemore writes the following in his book ’Foden’s Band—one hundred years of musical excellence.

It had all started informally many years earlier with a regular newsletter and monthly raffle, but developed following an exchange concert with the Dunvant Choir from Swansea. Cliff French, who was helping to host the choir, was asked if he would like to become a patron of the choir, and from the information he received floated the same idea to the band. With their approval he sought help from friends at the nearby Winterley Chapel and, over the years, their support and financial contribution has been magnificent.’

The Patrons have assisted the band including assistance with bandrooms and equipment down the years. During the early years, the Patrons Society was able to provide the band with items such as a set of Timpani, 2 new Euphoniums, and nearly £2000 towards the refurbishment and furnishing of a new bandroom.

In 1996 the band restructured the way in which it was managed; part of this was the formation of the band’s committee, which still runs to this date, this new look structure now had the capacity to incorporate the Patrons Society which, for the first 10 years, had relied completely on volunteers to run. Despite the change of administration, the society has maintained the same ethos throughout.

The annual Patrons concert has taken place in Sandbach (at the Town Hall or the boys School) every year and has done since 1987. Founder Neil Barnett has introduced the band at every concert and many patrons have assisted in the running of this event, some travelling the length of the country to attend this special performance which is only available to members of the society.

Two traditions have also emerged as part of the Patrons Society. In 2008 Foden’s released a CD entitled ‘Patrons Choice’. Members of the society were invited to send requests to the band out of which a programme was selected for the recording. This became an instant success, so much so that this idea has become an annual edition which is now widely respected throughout the brass band movement as one of the best concert CDs produced by brass bands. Each year, the disc now forms the basis for concert programmes performed by Foden’s throughout the country and has become the best selling CD wherever the band travels. At the Patrons Concert in February 2017, Foden’s will proudly release ‘Patron’s Choice X’.

The first of these recordings was dedicated to the memory of David Brunsdon – a former Baritone player in the band who was tragically killed in a road accident in 1991. Each subsequent edition has also been dedicated to individuals and groups of people who have made a significant contribution to the success of the band. This year the band have dedicated the release to all those individuals, companies and bands who supported Foden’s following their devastating bandroom fire in April.

It has also become tradition that the band gives it’s annual awards at the Patrons Concert. ‘Player of the Year’ recognises outstanding performance throughout the year while ‘Bandsman of the Year’ gives recognition to somebody who has given considerable effort in other ways in order to help the band succeed, both of which are voted for by the players in the band. The Patrons concert has become the perfect way to celebrate these successes with our most important supporters present.

Mark Wilkinson told A4B: ‘Over the past 30 Years Foden’s Band have been very fortunate to receive the support of it’s Patrons. We are forever indebted to the small group of volunteers who began the society, everybody who has helped in any way since as well as the continued support of all our Patron’s which is gratefully appreciated.’

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