When It Happens Panel Get involved: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting 'OXFORD NEWS' to 80360 or email
Heart attack won't keep me from contest, vows brass band leader
Buy this photo » Nigel Hall
WHEN musical director Nigel Hall suffered a heart attack he was determined it would not stop him leading his brass band to the biggest contest in its history.
And just like in the hit movie Brassed Off, where colliery band leader Danny, played by Pete Postlethwaite, has to battle his own demons ahead of a national final, Mr Hall is back at the helm.
Both men were determined to take their respective bands to the contest “whatever happened”.
And despite Mr Hall’s heart attack putting a spanner in the works, Bletchington Brass Band is back on track as it gears up for the final of the National Brass Band Championship at Cheltenham racecourse on September 22.
It is only the second time in the band’s 90-year history that it has reached the final of the national contest, the last was 2006.
The 25-piece band will perform a specially commissioned piece called A British Isles Suite by Jonathan Bates, in the fourth section of the contest.
There are four sections and a championship section in the competition.
Mr Hall, 50, said the band qualified for the competition in March, and in June were given the piece of music that all the bands will perform.
However, he suffered a heart attack while on holiday in Spain in July.
But because it was painless and he just felt breathless, Mr Hall waited until he got home before he saw a doctor.
Tests confirmed he had suffered a heart attack and he was admitted to hospital where he had three coronary stents put in. But now the vehicle auditor is on the mend and back conducting the band for their final few practice sessions.
Mr Hall said: “It was somewhat similar to what happened in the film Brassed Off, where Pete Postlethwaite’s character said ‘I’m going to be there for the band’s big day what ever happens’.
“That was my outlook with it.
“I have worked with the band for six years and we finally got to this point, nothing is going to keep me away.
“Obviously it’s a big thing for the band to qualify for the finals.”
Although Mr Hall has played his euphonium at two previous finals with different bands, it will be the first time he takes to the stage to conduct the group.
Band member and publicity officer Kerry Wells said: “It’s a massive achievement for a small village band to qualify for a national final so we’re all feeling quite proud too.”