A PAIR of kind-hearted brass band players from South Tyneside really hit a high note for an epic charity challenge.
Tuba player Dan Knott, from West Boldon, and cornet player Stephen Wilkinson were part of a 30-strong team who marched up the three highest mountains in Britain in the space of 24 hours – taking their trusty instruments with them.
The best of brass, known as Three Peaks Brass, completed the gruelling Three Peaks Challenge over the bank holiday weekend in aid of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
They played Flower of Scotland at the summit of Ben Nevis, Jerusalem on Scafell Pike and Land of my Fathers on Snowdon.
The ambitious group smashed their fundraising target of £10,000 and beat the 24-hour target by 10 minutes.
Dan, 29, said: “It went very well. We completed the challenge in 23 hours and 50 minutes, just under the 24 hours.
“I was fine going up the mountains, but it was coming back down that was more difficult and a strain on the knees.
“There was a great camaraderie between us all. Everyone was working together to make sure we all finished.
“We aimed to raise £10,000 but have already broken through the £16,000 barrier.
“We are already talking about holding other events for the charity in the future. I have made lifelong friendships.” Dan, who plays with the Reg Vardy Brass Band in Stanley, shed nearly five stone to get himself in peak condition for the unique charity challenge.
The fundraising feat was the brainchild of James Parkinson, whose mother suffers from multiple sclerosis. Dan heard about the musical mountain climb through a mutual friend of James and was determined to play his part.
The band of charity champions are eager to work together again to raise even more funds for the charity.
Organiser and tenor horn player James, 29, from Wigan, said: “This was a massive challenge and the dedication of everyone involved has been incredible.
“Our original fundraising target for the MS Society was £10,000 and we’ve smashed that.
“The event was everything I wanted it to be and more – I can’t thank everyone involved enough.”
James followed in the footsteps of his father, who attempted a similar challenge in the 1980s to raise money for charity by climbing Ben Nevis and performing on top.
In addition to the 24-hour challenge, the band also put on a fundraising concert in Ashton-in-Makerfield, near Wigan, the night before last weekend’s challenge.
The musicians rehearsed together for the first time just hours before the concert, the performance included a piece specifically written for the band by composer Peter Meechan.
The musical mountain march is thought to be the first time a full brass band – which had to work as a team to carry usual walking equipment as well as the full complement of 30 brass instruments including trombones, cornets, euphoniums and tubas weighing 12kg each – has completed the Three Peaks Challenge.
n Donations can still be made to the band by logging on to virginmoneygiving.com/team/3peaksbrass.