The Dysart Colliery Silver Band has another reason to ‘Believe’ after receiving a funding award from Creative Scotland as it gets ready to compete in the British Championship Finals.
The group – whose members’ ages range from 18 to 81 – won the Scottish Championship back in March for the first time since 1921 and has been raising money for the trip to Cheltenham, which Iain McAlpine, band secretary, estimates will cost around £10,000.
He said the Creative Scotland award of £7,259 is a huge help: “It’s a big chunk of the funding, though we’ve done a lot of other fundraising work, so we’re close to meeting our target.”
Alan Morrison, head of music at Creative Scotland said: “Creative Scotland is delighted to support Dysart Colliery Silver Band as they head to the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain.
“Their achievement so far has been fantastic and, as they reach new audiences, the future looks very bright.”
Following the 1921 victory members of the band left, leaving them unable to compete at the British Championship Finals, so next month’s trip marks a huge moment in the band’s history and a remarkable turn around in its fortunes.
Iain said: “Since the 50s and 60s the band had been unable to compete. It had struggled and basically survived in name only.
“It’s only been over the last ten years with people coming on board that we’ve been able to take a more structured approach, looking at what we had done wrong and what we needed to do. So we set up a route map from April 2016 to March 2017 when the Championships took place which we called Going For Gold.
“Basically all the targets we set were met and we won. So the committee said we have to keep this structure in place and the whole concept needed a title that meant something – that’s how we came up with the ‘Believe’ slogan.”
Iain credits the Reverend Ron Rye, Pastor at Whyte’s Causeway Baptist Church, where the band now rehearses, as playing a huge part in the band’s turnaround.
Ron said: “I’m fairly new to Kirkcaldy and Dysart were looked upon a bit of a joke in the banding world, to put not too fine a point on it.
“There are a couple of really good brass bands in Fife and Dysart was never really involved, so coming along and seeing what was there I was fairly quick on to the committee.
“We took part in the Scottish Championships last year and came 11th out of 14. Everyone was really disappointed and it was quite obvious to me that the band were capable of much more.”
Ron spoke to other brass bands to get tips on where Dysart were going wrong and the result was the ‘Going For Gold’ project.
“Instead of just yakking on about stuff, let’s actually do it!” he said, “and then ‘Believe’ was birthed from that.
“We want to be the type of band where people come in and they have a place. It’s not just about believing in a goal, it’s about believing in the people that we’ve got.
“It’s a change of mindset and that success we have has been with the new people that have come along and have been invited into that community aspect.
“I say to people you can do this, you really can, you’ve been doing this for years, you’ve just not pushed yourself. Take a chance!
“It’s 96 years since we last won and the Creative Scotland funding is recognition of that.”
In a further sign of the band’s new found success it will move up to become a 3rd Section band next year – 50 years since it competed at that level.
Ron added: “One member of the band has been in it his whole adult life and has never experienced this before.
“We have learners who are in retirement age, we have people who have never picked up an instrument before - like my dad! - or others who hadn’t played in years, and we’ve said to them, just join us on this journey, we’re having a bit of a riot here!”