FEATURE: 10 years of WorleWind Band
PUBLISHED: 06:55 15 March 2020
A group of Worle musicians have celebrated 10 years of performing across the South West.
WorleWind Band was formed after an article in the Mercury, and word of mouth resulted in a first rehearsal on January 14, 2010, when 18 enthusiastic players turned out in one of the worst winter snowstorms in living memory.
A decade later, the group has grown to 60 committed musicians and are in high demand in Somerset, Dorset and Gloucestershire.
How the group was formed
The group was set up by musical director and trumpet player Julia Ractliffe and her French horn-playing husband Andy, who started the band after moving to Worle from Devon.
Julia said: 'One of our previous bands specialised in light, popular music - a format which was very audience-friendly and we wanted to continue in that vein, so we decided to put the word out and see what happened.
'Our musicians come from all walks of life; from ex-military bandsmen to social workers, students to headteachers and nurses to accountants.
'Both professionals and amateurs give their time freely for the pleasure of making music.
'The past 10 years really have been a whirlwind for us, with membership increasing year on year and performance requests coming from far and wide. Our aim is to provide good quality music which is engaging for our audiences and musicians alike.'
WorleWind in numbers
WorleWind have played nearly 200 concerts to a total audience of more than 35,000 people and raised more than £32,000 for good causes.
They became a registered charity in 2017 and received Arts Council funding the following year. They have also won funding from Weston Town Council, the Mayor's fund and Thatchers Cider.
In recent times they have found a new audience through YouTube, racking up nearly 68,000 views on the video-sharing channel. Their members range from the youngest member, Adam Corke, who is aged 13, to 87-year-old, Ken Heeney, proving you can never be too young, or too old, to make music.
Julia added: 'We are lucky that the band has bonded into a group of great friends who all support each other. We've had eight marriages in the past 10 years - and played at three of them - and we've welcomed five babies into the band's family.
'We try to do something as a group every year, whether it's a weekend of concerts in France or a music boot camp weekend. They all combine team-building, serious music making and, of course, socialising.'
What do the next 10 years hold?
A loyal and dedicated supporting team, from photographer to sound and lighting engineers, works behind the scenes to make each concert as exciting visually as it is musically.
As well as formal concerts, the band can regularly be seen and heard at Weston's Grove Park bandstand during the summer months and carolling around Worle and Weston in the run-up to Christmas.
Julia said her proudest moment from the past decade came last year, when the band rallied at short notice to support a fellow member whose wife was seriously ill. They played a pop-up concert, raising £1,000 for urgent medical treatment.
She added: 'We enjoyed a party at the Commodore Hotel to mark the occasion and it was one of those occasions where everybody just let their hair down and had a ball.
'They are a fantastic bunch of musicians and it's amazing how far we've come in 10 years.'
WorleWind Band is all set for a harmonious second decade with plans for a weekend playing on the Isle of Wight and a celebratory anniversary concert at Weston's Blakehay Theatre in October lined up.
Their next concert will be held on April 25 at Weston's Christ Church, in Montpellier, joining forces with WI choir, Bleadon Belles.
Tickets, priced £5-8, are available from www.worlewindband.co.uk