Blaze-hit Bo’ness band are now Britain’s number one champions
Bo’ness musicians have eclipsed the setback of a devastating blaze by winning Champion Band Section One in the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain.
The remarkable triumph by Unison Kinneil has sparked a jubilant weekend celebration, following a tour de force which saw the local musicians achieve the first ever Section One victory for Scotland.
Yet in June things had never looked so bad, after the band hall was destroyed in a fire, along with instruments - forcing the group to relaunch from scratch.
While prospects seemed bleak in the immediate aftermath of the fire a major community effort raised more than three times the £5,000 target sum set to keep the band playing.
This weekend the talented players bounced back with a vengeance, taking on the very best brass band players in the country to bring home a magnificent national trophy.
The success at the Championships, staged in Cheltenham, has sparked a torrent of congratulatory messages on social media, with one well-wisher commenting that “the Phoenix has truly risen”.
Another predicted a tour around the band’s Bo’ness home town on an open topped bus would be in order.
Ahead of the contest an experienced online brass bands pundit had accurately predicted the Bo’ness players were in with a serious chance of winning field-beating glory.
He said: “Scotland is yet to claim a First Section National title - a record that nearly ended last year by top-six finishers Johnstone and Dunaskin Doon.
“High hopes then for the travellers south in the form of champions Kirkintilloch (who didn’t take prize this time) and Unison Kinneil.
“Unison Kinneil is making their first appearance since 2015 under the experienced Raymond Tennant, and they also showed solid form in coming ninth at the Senior Trophy in Blackpool”.
His confidence in the Kinneil band was well-placed, and musicians still heading back from Cheltenham by bus today are already making plans for a proper celebration at home.
After the fire in June the band managed to gain temporary premises through Falkirk Council, which allowed them to keep practising - and their determination has now been fully rewarded with a coveted national top prize.
The band was founded in 1858 by the miners of Kinneil Pit and those employed at Wilson’s Kinneil.