THE hills really will be alive with the sound of music on an epic charity challenge.
A pair of South Tyneside brass band players are part of a 30-strong team, which aims to march up the three highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales, with their trusty instruments in tow, on Saturday.
Tuba player Dan Knott, from West Boldon, and cornet player Stephen Wilkinson, from Boldon Colliery, will be hitting a high note for the MS Society when they take part in the gruelling Three Peaks Challenge, with the aim of raising £10,000.
The big-hearted brass players – known as Three Peaks Brass – will play each countries’ national anthem when they reach the summits – Flower of Scotland at Ben Nevis, Jerusalem on Scafell Pike and Land of my Fathers on Snowdon.
This is thought to be the first time that the Three Peaks challenge has been attempted with a band, and the group has already completed several training walks with instruments.
Dan, 29, who plays with the Reg Vardy Brass Band in Stanley, has even shed nearly five stone to get himself in peak condition for the unique charity challenge.
The fundraising feat was the brainchild of James Parker, whose mother suffers from multiple sclerosis.
Mr Knott heard about the musical mountain climb through a mutual friend of James and was determined to play his part.
He said: “I had never met James but I heard about it through a friend and I saw the Facebook page for the challenge.
“I was a bit nervous when I first signed up but I am raring to go now.
“I have no doubt I can do it. I’m really up for it.
“The donations have been starting to come in and we already have over £6,500 pledged.”
The musicians – from all parts of the country and including seasoned performers through to brass beginners – must work as a team to carry their usual walking equipment alongside an assortment of brass instruments.
Mr Knott has been training since agreeing to take part in January.
He added: “I have lost nearly five stone since agreeing to take part at the start of the year. I’m just under 15 stone now.
“I train at Temple Park Centre three or four times a week. I have been doing a lot of circuit training.
“I am a keen walker anyway and have been preparing by carrying the equivalent weight of my tuba, about 14kg.”
James Parker added: “Since my mother’s diagnosis, my father and his friends worked tirelessly over many years to raise thousands of pounds for the MS Society.
“In a cruel twist of fate, his friend, Keith Schmechel, one of the major catalysts in much of the fundraising, was himself diagnosed with MS three years ago.
“So we’re doing this to raise money to support research into treatment which will benefit people like Keith, who gave our family so much support over the years.”
Three Peaks Brass will kick off the challenge at 3pm on Saturday at Ben Nevis in Scotland.
The band will then travel in minibuses to the Lake District to climb Scafell Pike, before heading on to Snowdon on Sunday afternoon.
For more information on how to donate, see twitter.com/3peaksbrass, facebook.com/3peaksbrass and virginmoneygiving.com3/3peaksbrass