THE community has rallied to the aid of a 140-year-old championship brass band on the brink of collapse.

Wingates Band recently revealed it was struggling financially due to dwindling attendance at concerts as well as rising costs, and could be forced to close by Christmas.

But since putting out an appeal to the community, the group has been 'overwhelmed' with offers of support by people and businesses.

Melanie McFarland, marketing and PR manager, said: "There has been a massive response. We have had a few local Westhoughton businesses get on board and had other offers from other charities.

"It has been overwhelming. We have been very busy."

But despite the response, Ms McFarland said it would take time before the band was completely out of the woods.

She added: "It is going to be a long haul. We have got to get consistent support behind us that will make us financially secure for the long term.

"It is going to take time but the initial response from everyone getting behind us and getting to know the band again has been great."

She also wished to thank the locals and businesses who had got in touch.

The news of the band's struggle was revealed 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.

Band treasurer, Joy Mooney, an active member of the Westhoughton Community Network, said: "The band’s successes in competitions over the past 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.

According to rankings website BrassStats, 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

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