And the band played on…

Covid couldn’t stop the music when Christchurch University of the Third Age (U3A) tuned up to help the Macmillan Unit hospice.

Each year the U3A Vintage Brass Band raises money for Macmillan Caring Locally by playing Christmas Carols to shoppers in Saxon Square. Restrictions meant playing activities were limited in 2020.

But band member Tony Kent arranged with Christchurch Council for the band’s quartet, Brass in Harmony and small ensembles of Vintage Brass members to play in the Square on December 14th. As in previous years the U3A musicians were titled Santa’s Band and Rudolph’s Band and their efforts not only cheered up shoppers, but also raised £344.93 through bucket collections for Macmillan Caring Locally.

Tony said: “Macmillan Caring Locally has been one of our nominated charities for many years now and I’m happy to say that although it wasn’t quite the show we usually put on, we still played and spread a little Christmas cheer.”

The band also used their time away from customary playing and practicing to stage a U3A Vintage Brass 2020 Lockdown Charity Beard Growing Competition.

Tony explained: “Over the course of 20 days band members Dave Cornford, Roy Oxford, Pete Guntrip and Cliff Brock took up the challenge of growing a beard – with varying degrees of success and to the absolute horror of their wives Betty, Angela, Wilma and Helen.

“I had the honour of judging the final results in terms of luxuriance, bristle-iness, food processing and storage and grooming and ended up making them all winners for their sheer determination”.

“The contest brought everyone lots of laughter and thanks to the generous sponsorship of their friends and families raised a further £520.25 for Macmillan Caring Locally. Bringing our total donation to just over £865″.

Christchurch U3A offers a programme of educational and leisure activities for those not in full-time employment and is part of the worldwide U3A movement. Members with similar interests meet during the day in small groups, usually weekly or fortnightly and at various venues. The main aim is to advance the education of retired and semi-retired people and assist them in pursuing their interests within a social environment.

Neal Williams, Trust Secretary of Macmillan Caring Locally said: “This fabulous group of people have been using their talents and their spare time to help the Mac Unit for many years and we cannot thank them enough”.

“Setting up their instruments against the restrictions of a pandemic, to raise money for us and lift the spirits of shoppers is something truly special. We can’t thank them enough for their continuing support.”

Christchurch U3A Vintage Brass members are hoping to resume their normal Carol playing for Macmillan Caring Locally this Christmas.