Boobs and Brass: The female band raising cash for breast cancer

In 2006, two chums made up our minds to break the male dominance of the brass band world by way of forming an all-feminine band – and known as it Boobs and Brass. Eleven years on, they have raised £200,000 for charity and have More Than 600 individuals across the united kingdom.

On Friday, Boobs and Brass used to be given the BBC Tune Day Brass Band Award, for the band that perfect embodies the BBC Tune Day 2017 theme – “the ability of Song”.

The band was once born when brass musicians Jane Nichols and Maggie Betts made up our minds to call on The Entire female avid gamers they knew for a charity live performance.

With a 25-robust band, the chums anticipated to raise a couple of hundred pounds. In Truth, they took £5,000.

“We have been absolutely dumbfounded,” says Mrs Betts, a Sixty Three-12 months-old cornet participant from Northamptonshire.

That first express attracted an enormous crowd – some of whom, Mrs Betts suspects, have been most effective there because they have been curious about the name.

“I Don’t think they had been fairly sure what they had been getting,” she says. “They may were disillusioned!

“All Of The Girls stated, ‘That used to be sensible, We’ve Got received to do it once more.’ And It Is just never stopped due to the fact.”

The band has because grown and cut up into three branches overlaying the Midlands, north and south of England. More Than 600 folks aged between 12-Seventy Three are on the database, and the first international offshoot will launch in New Zealand later this yr.

Before that inaugural live performance, Mrs Nichols and Mrs Betts determined to choose a charity each and every and split the proceeds. Mrs Nichols gave her 1/2 to a marketing campaign for equipment at Kettering Sanatorium, the place she worked.

At The time, a fellow member of Mrs Betts’s regular band had simply been diagnosed with breast Cancer. So she selected Breast Cancer Now.

Over The Past 11 years, the Boobs and Brass band individuals – who’re all unpaid – have endured to present live performance takings to charity. The Whole stands at £206,000 – More Than £A Hundred And Seventy,000 of which has long gone to Breast Cancer Now.

It Is A cause that has transform particularly personal to the musicians.

Mrs Betts says about 20 contributors have had remedy for breast Cancer, and three are going thru it now. The band has develop into a improve staff as well as a supply of enjoyment.

“It Is an extraordinarily tight-knit neighborhood you probably have members who’re going thru something so drastic,” she says. “You just need to be there for them. It Can Be frightening. It May Be any considered one of us. You just never comprehend whether it’s going to be you.”

The struggles of those band contributors have made the others especially keen to keep elevating money, Mrs Betts says.

“We Have had a few ideas about how long this band is going to run. Possibly we ought to call it a day. And the ladies have mentioned, ‘No manner, Now We Have bought to carry on.’

“You see a friend subsequent to you sporting a wig and going via chemotherapy and she’s still at Boobs and Brass Taking Part In – you assume, We’ve Got obtained to do it for folk such as you. It makes you extra decided.”

When They started, the title Boobs and Brass “shook a few people” – and a few people still find it distasteful, Mrs Betts says.

She tells any critics concerning the work they do and assures them they’re “not just a load of foolish Women dressing up and flashing our boobs”.

But they have got equipped a clean trade within the brass band world, which has historically been overwhelmingly male.

Mrs Betts was once the primary lady to be allowed to play in her native brass band in 1969. “It used to be rather a massive factor,” she says.

And now, Boobs and Brass have comfy their women-most effective rule.

Taking Part In with them in the annual Whit Friday brass band contest in Saddleworth, Greater Manchester, on Friday, have been two males.

“It’s difficult to get girl bass players – It’s a massive, heavy instrument,” Mrs Betts says.

“But they’re also representing the men who get breast Most Cancers. So Long As they’re courageous sufficient to put the purple jacket on, they may be able to be part of it.

“We Do Not like to convey too many [men] in. But The odd one right here after which is appropriate.”

The BBC Song Day Award was once introduced On The Whit Friday procession, and Mrs Betts says It Is a reward for All The band’s musicians and supporters.

“If You End Up given an award like this, that’s our method of with the ability to say, ‘Thank You Girls, That Is what individuals call to mind you. That Is what you have performed’.

“To us that’s price one million kilos. An award like this being supplied to us is so very different.”

Aside From raising extra money for charity, Mrs Betts has one ambition left.

“I’m hoping that any person will make a movie of it some day,” she says.

It Is no longer past the nation-states of risk – Brassed Off meets Calendar Ladies, Most Likely. A story of actual folks breaking the dependent ideas and successful the day with heart, ingenuity and generosity.

BBC Song Day takes position on Thursday 15 June 2017.

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