Band marches to victory with 12 awards at contest
A SWANSEA band marched to victory at the annual World Marching Jazz Band Championships in Newcastle at the weekend.
The Swansea East jazz band took the title of UK Federation of Jazz Bands Best Overall Band in division two, scooping another eleven awards along the way.
The band, which is run by 95-year-old Percy Gilbert MBE, has around 30 members with the youngest under three years old.
Mr Gilbert said: "This is the third time we've won the Championship, the first time was in 1978.
"It's a tremendous result for the band because we've had lots of trouble in getting people into the band — a lot of the young boys in particular wouldn't join.
"With the help of the Evening Post we've managed to get more people involved, we've had quite a few appeals in the paper over the years. Over the years the band has had a big impact on Port Tennant, and we'll have an even bigger part of the community now we've won."
As well as the 1978 victory, the band was also crowned world champions in 2002.
However, this year's championship victory marks a remarkable turnaround for the band.
In recent years it had been down to just 11 members and badly in need of new blood. Mr Gilbert made an appeal in the Evening Post for new comers to join.
Long-term supporter, Vicky Harris, said: "After the competition last year we lost some members and had to put an appeal to find more members. It's been going such a long time now it would have been awful for the band to stop.
"We went down a division, to division three, but when we got the new members we worked harder to get back to the level we were before. With everyone's hard work we managed to go back up to division two, and take the trophy as well."
As well as winning the Best Overall Band category, they also won Best Music, Best Entertainment, and nine other individual instrument categories.
The band were not resting on its laurels though, and brought their award-winning marching display home for a parade through Dan-y -Graig Road, in Port Tennant.
Mr Gilbert, known to some members affectionally as Mr G, has dedicated his life to the band, for which he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grenfell Park, St Thomas and Port Tennant Community Awards seven years ago.