A CHAMPIONSHIP brass band that has been playing for more than 140 years is 'on the brink of collapse' and calling for immediate financial assistance.

Wingates Band has put out an appeal to the community and to businesses as it faces the 'unenviable decision of closing its musical doors forever' if things do not improve by the end of the year.

The shock news comes just after it came 13th out of 18 groups in the British Open at the Birmingham Symphony Hall — described as the biggest brass band competition in the world.

It is the first time in 18 years that the band has competed in the contest, which took place on Saturday.

Band treasurer, Joy Mooney, an active member of the Westhoughton Community Network, said: "The band’s successes in competitions over the last 18 months has been phenomenal, however the costs of remaining at this elite level has put severe pressure on our finances and unless we can find support from both business sponsorship and the local community we face closing the band down for good."

The self-funded group was formed in 1873 and 2023 would be the 150th anniversary.

Members have partly put down the current struggles to a lack of audiences in more recent times to support its concerts as well as higher annual running costs.

David Kaye, who recently retired as the band's president and trustee after 25 years, said: "I am very, very saddened to hear what I am hearing about the band.

"I gave it my all for 25 years and I just sincerely hope that something can be done to turn around the band's fortunes.

"I hope the existing band members and musicians turn things around. There are not many groups that have such an unbroken history."

The band recently held a performance by the Pretoria Pit memorial in Westhoughton, performing Fraternity.

The band lost seven members in the pit disaster in 1910, which killed 344 men and boys.

According to rankings website BrassStatsm, Wingates band is among the top 20 brass bands in the world.

In an effort to raise money, the band has introduced a new supporters club that costs £20 per year.

The package includes a free ticket to the annual Christmas concert, which will be held at The Victoria Hall on December 9 with the Warrington Male Voice Choir.

Businesses can also help by taking out a gold, silver or bronze sponsorship package, said to include a 'range of benefits'.

As well as the Christmas event, the band will be taking part in a Best Of British concert at St Bartholomew's Church in Westhoughton on Saturday, October 21.

For more details, contact Melanie McFarland on 07770587227 or by emailing melanie@i88.co.uk

To book concert tickets or to hire the band for an event, contact band manager Sue MacDonald on 01925 837737 or email cornet1@virginmedia.com

Wingates Band through the years 

1873 - Wingates Brass Band is formed by members of the Bible class at Wingates Independent Methodist Church, Westhoughton
1891 – William Rimmer is appointed as the band’s first professional conductor
1906 – The band achieved the “double”, winning the British Open Brass Band Championships and the British National Championships
1907 – The band repeated its success and retained both titles, completing the first “double double” in the British banding world
1910 - Almost half of the band’s members and senior committee died in the Pretoria Pit disaster
2004 & 2006 – Winners of the French Open Brass Band Championship
2013 – Paul Andrews hired as Musical Director
2013 – First double disc CD, From Fifes to Fanfares and Fame, released for 140th anniversary