Mid Sussex musicians turn from foe to friends

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Two musical groups have turned from opponents to allies as they join forces for the first time.

Burgess Hill Marching Youth (BHMY) and Haywards Heath Concert Band (HHCB) will perform together at Spring Together With Music on March 21 at The Martlets Hall, Burgess Hill.

Before it reformed as BHMY, Burgess Hill Scout Band went head to head with HHCB in competitions.

Now some members play for both.

Younger members of BHMY get to perform with the more experienced members of HHCB.

Formed in 1986, the Burgess Hill Marching Youth is a light infantry style bugle and brass band renowned for its distinctive green and white Ghurkha inspired uniform.

Most members of BHMY are from Burgess Hill.

BHMY currently consists of 35 regular members who meet to rehearse for two to four hours a week.

They take part in contests, fetes, bonfire processions, massed band events and annual residential trips.

The band has won several titles, having played at the Royal Albert Hall, Wembley Arena, and in Germany, Belgium, Holland and France.

In recent years the band has taken part in outdoor pursuits in an annual weekend camp, have performed together in a charity concert and as part of the National Massed Bugle Band.

Each year, members put together a routine of traditional military band and contemporary music, including tuned percussion and drum displays.

The band raises funds to continue by performing at festivals and parades.

It is predominantly self-funded, with some support from Burgess Hill District Lions.

The band has recently introduced a full brass section.

Hundreds of young people from Burgess Hill have played in the band.

And many describe them as ‘the best years of their lives’.

Some members are following in their parents or siblings footsteps by playing in BHMY.

HHCB is a brass and swing band, it was founded in 1974 as The Haywards Heath Scout & Guide Band.

Some members have stayed with the band since its formation.

Though it used to be open only to Scouts and Guides, it has welcomed all since 1997.

The band was run by founder Tony Gilbert, who was musical director and conductor until he died in 2011. The post is now held by his daughter Alison.

The band has performed at prestigious events at the Royal Albert Hall, the Guildhall, Wembley Arena and at Windsor over four days as part of the 1977 Jubilee Celebrations, culminating in the grand finale procession led by HHCB.

The band is a registered charity, and is totally self-supporting without any sponsorship.

None of the band members receive any payment for services rendered.

n HHCB welcomes new members.

Call Alison Gilbert on 01444 450196 or e-mail bandmaster@hhcb.gov.uk.