Members of a brass band formed more than 110 years ago believe their bid for cash to form a new youth band could secure their future for another century.
Yiewsley and West Drayton Band, which rehearses at Yiewsley Methodist Church, in Fairfield Road, has attracted musicians to its group since it started in the late 19th century.
Its membership has risen and fallen, but now, the group is stronger than ever with around 32 musicians, including teenagers and pensioners.
Clayton MacLean, 34, of New Road, Hillingdon, who has been a member for four years, said the group is looking to expand by setting up a new youth band.
He hopes it will be funded from The Hillingdon Community Trust – set up to hand out £1m a year over 15 years, provided by BAA, operators of Heathrow Airport, to offset the environmental impact of Terminal 5.
The group made a bid of up to £40,000 at the beginning of January and is now waiting anxiously for a decision from the trust to find out whether it has been successful.
Mr MacLean said: “Apart from ours, there has never been a brass band steeped in history and tradition in this area.
“Our catchment area is enormous because we are the only brass band in West London.
“However, there is a shrinking pool of people playing in brass bands and we are trying to get more people, young and old, involved.
“We want to set up another band which will be specifically for youths and we believe this will secure the band’s future.”
The group held its first rehearsal in August, 1890, after residents from both areas decided to raise money to form the new brass band.
Around 20 people attended the meeting, but it was not until the summer of 1903 that the band took part in its first competition, in Wembley Park, against others from around the country.
The band competed in several local and national events before the Second World War, but the highlight came in 1952 when it was a finalist at the Daily Herald National Championship, held in Manchester.
However, the band struggled in the years following that success with membership dwindling and the group was unable to compete in events because a lack of players.
It would have folded if it had not been for the passion and dedication of a small group of members from the area who continued to play together.
In the 1990s, the band found a new lease of life, with many more musicians joining, allowing it to once again compete in competitions across the country.
Mr MacLean said: “I think one the main reasons for the band’s survival is it has always had a core membership of local people.
“There have been generations of the same family joining the band, and although it has gone through difficult times in the past, it is still here today.
“The support for the band is still strong, and many people have been here for more than 25 years and through thick and thin.
“Because they have been involved for such a long time, for them it is more an institution that must be protected and continued. “I believe the band will last another 100 years, and it is stronger than it has ever been because everybody is committed.”
Despite this, he said he still finds many people in the borough have heard not of the band.
“We are probably known more by people outside this area because of the competitions we take part in during the year.
“However, we are doing our best to let people know we are here and have already booked a concert at West Drayton Community Centre, in Harmondsworth Road, on November 6.”
* For more information log on to www.ywdband.com.
Anyone wishing to join should contact the group’s secretary, Donna Tubb, on 07977 140721, or the band’s communication director, Mr MacLean, on 01895 842929.