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Somercotes Parish Council
Somercotes Village Hall
Nottingham Road
Derbyshire, DE55 4LY
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Administration: 01773 603810
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Somercotes Parish Council
has been awarded
Quality Parish Council status

Somercotes Black Diamonds
by Parish Council on Wednesday 12 December 2012

Debra Wood has provided these photographs of the Black Diamonds Band, and tells us:

“Somercotes Black Diamonds were originally formed by Mr. & Mrs Cyril Derbyshire in 1980 and were originally called the Derbyshire Black Diamonds.  Debbie begged her parents to let her join the band after a poster campaign throughout the villages asking for members.   She and her sister joined the band at the first meeting and both their parents had an active involvement from that day on.  We practised hard and fundraised, and visited competition venues to get an idea of what is was all about?  On their first parade, which was through Somercotes, they had no uniforms, and the girls wore black PE skirts, white t-shirts and socks, while the boys wore black trousers and white plimsolls.  The name was changed to Somercotes Black Diamonds in 1981, when a new banner was made and was embroidered with the date 1981.  Due to fundraising and the support of the local community and businesses etc., we got our first uniforms – dresses made from velour for the girls and black trousers and velour jackets for the boys. Eventually we were able to buy their own bus – a double decker painted black, white and red and with the band’s name across it.   We travelled miles on weekends to carnivals and competitions, but it was a headache for the driver planning routes every weekend to avoid the low bridges!    We travelled up and down the country, and had weekends at Great Yarmouth for the United Kingdom of Jazz Bands jamboree, later to be called the UK Championships.  In 1983 the band qualified to enter the World Championships in Bradford.  The band did extremely well for their first World championship and came around 11th place in the junior section, but also won many individual trophies.  The band continued to attend World and UK championships, and in October 1985 they took the title of United Kingdom Champions at Butlins, Pwhelli, Wales.  The band also won many other competitions to become regional champions, league champions, etc.  The hard work of fundraising and training continued, as well as attending many local carnivals and fetes. 

In 1987 it was the turn of our area to host the World Championships, a two-day event at Markeaton Park, Derby.  This was a chance to shine in front of a home audience, giving local people the opportunity to watch us take part in this prestigious event.  Approximately 50 bands took part from all over the county.  The band gave their all, and at the end of the event was declared runners up, closely ‘pipped at the post’ by a northern band called Newbiggin Harlequins.  The band and committee were extremely proud of the progress and achievements, clearly making their own lasting impression on the Jazz Band world. 

During the winter the band changed the display and added new and exciting tunes.  They aimed high and the following season, during the August bank holiday weekend of 1988, at Himley Hall, Dudley, the Somercotes Black Diamonds became World Champions.  All the hard work and dedication had paid off.  The Band attended the UK Championships again in the October and won the UK Overall Band trophy. 

In 1989 the band made the decision to change from a junior to a senior band, which meant that members didn’t have to leave at the age of 18 if they wished to carry on.  They continued to be a successful senior band, but could never quite gain the titles they had as a junior band.  The band continued with carnivals and competitions, even going overseas to a music festival and carnival extravaganza in France.  As members grew older interest began to dwindle, not just with our own band, but it was the start of the disappearance of Jazz bands across the country.  We continued until January 1998 when a decision was made to fold the band due to lack of interest and funds.  For anyone who was involved at any time with the band, we shared lots of happy times, and created many lasting memories and some fantastic friendships.   I have to say the success of the band could not have been possible without the dedication of the band members and the fantastic support from the local community”. 

Our thanks to Debra for the article and photographs.

First time out

After winning the UK championships

World Champions

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