A CHAMPIONSHIP brass band which is under threat of closure has called for the town's support as it holds its first major concert since its financial difficulties were revealed.

Wingates Band will be putting on a Best Of British show at St Bartholomew's Church in Westhoughton on Saturday — and members are hoping to 'entertain as many people as possible'.

It comes after the group revealed the current state of its finances could end its 140-year musical life by Christmas unless the situation drastically improves.

But since the call for help, the community has rallied to support the band.

Member Melanie McFarland said things are looking up but has admitted there was still a long way to go.

Mrs McFarland, who is also the group's marketing and PR manager, said: "We have been encouraged by the initial response from our appeal last month, and although we have still a long way to go in ensuring the long term future of Wingates Band, we are feeling much more heartened.

"We are keen to entertain as many people as possible in our local town this Saturday in such a wonderful venue at St Bartholomew’s Church and we hope people will come along for what is promised to be a really enjoyable evening’s entertainment."

The finale of the evening will feature a theme inspired by Last Night of the Proms and the show will also feature pieces from the movie Brassed Off as well as other popular classics.

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

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

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.

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.

The shocking news of the band's troubles came after it competed at the British Open Brass Band Championships in Birmingham, finishing 13th out of 18 competitors.

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

Seven members died in the pit disaster in 1910, which killed 344 men and boys.

Tickets for Saturday's concert can be reserved by contacting band manager Sue MacDonald on cornet1@virginmedia.com or in the evenings on 07966 364530 or 01925 837737.

Alternatively, pay on the door with tickets £8 each, two for £15, and under-16s free when accompanied by an adult.