When will the next Whit Friday be?

June 10th 2022

And finally some good news!

Saddleworth and Oldham group of Whit Friday Band Contests receive 

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

The group of volunteers based in the Saddleworth and Lees Villages have been
honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK and is the equivalent of an MBE.
Each year, approximately 300 volunteers are involved in presenting the Whit Friday Band Contests at eleven venues in Denshaw, Delph, Dobcross, Diggle, Uppermill, Greenfield, Friezland, Lydgate, Grotton, Lees and Springhead and Scouthead and Austerlands; there are innumerable hours of commitment needed to provide this spectacular, unique event.
This year the group is one of 241 different category winners to receive the prestigious award. The QAVS aims to recognise work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. Created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, award recipients are announced each year on 2 nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.
Representatives of the group will receive the award crystal and certificate signed by Her Majesty the Queen from the Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Sir Warren Smith, later this summer.
Spokesman Bob Rodgers, the co-ordinator for the group said “Although contests have been in existence for 137 years this group has functioned since 1993 and we are honoured and obviously delighted to have been successfully nominated for this award, the work that is undertaken to provide the ‘greatest free show on earth’ is a twelve-month rolling programme. To the visitors who
arrive on the evening, it appears to ‘just happen’. Throughout the area thousands of hours are put into planning and preparation. We are indebted to Oldham Council for the infrastructure and advice they provide that only those involved in the running are aware of and the financial support through
the Saddleworth and Lees District Partnership, not to mention the numerous businesses who sponsor the individual contests.
Bob went on to say “The group were told they were being nominated for the award in the Autumn of 2019. It is ironic that since then we have been unable to function for the last two years through restrictions imposed by Covid. However, we are all looking forward to continuing with this great show in 2022, when hopefully all our banding activity will be back to normal.”


It is with great regret that the Saddleworth and Oldham Group of Whit Friday Band Contests, with the backing of Oldham Council Officers, have taken the difficult decision to cancel the 2021 event on 28 th May.

Having taken into account the current and projected situation regarding Covid19, they are of the opinion that it would be irresponsible to stage this year’s contests.  
Vaccine protection will not be complete and an organised gathering of people, whilst invarious stage of protection, would be considered foolhardy and dangerous. We must support all the Emergency services who have enough problems without our event adding to the extra burden.
We have also taken into consideration the fact that bands will have had little or no chance to rehearse and to travel in a ‘Covid safe’ manner would be impossible.
It was never anticipated this pandemic would last so long, but hopefully we can get back to something like normality in time for 10th June 2022.
Bob Rodgers
Group Co-ordinator

Until 2022, we hope that you are all able to keep safe, and keep practising ( Yes we know just how hard it is…!) and we look forward to welcoming you then. In the meantime, you may be interested in our new range of masks.

… “to the greatest free show on earth”. The Diggle Band Contest took place for the very first time on the 5th June 2009. The aim of the organising committee was to make this new contest a family friendly occasion, and that is just what we have achieved! We have fabulous food offerings, plenty of space for chairs and blankets and tremendous views.


Calling all composers! ANY band who play an unpublished march at the Diggle Contest will have their march published free of charge by Mode for Publishing, courtesy of Tabby Kerwin.

An opportunity not to be missed!

Our Adjudicator is the fabulous Tabby Kerwin, who stepped into the shoes of her husband, Simon, following his untimely death. She is the first female Whit Friday adjudicator, and had a great time last year.

For information on the other Saddleworth Whit Friday Contests, please see our new website . Please take a look and complete the Registration Form.

We are looking for a new adjudicator, - someone open minded and willing to work with us in our use of technology to deliver results and comments very quickly and efficiently. Excellent sandwiches and biscuits! For more information please contact Brian Cliffe on 07703184200 .

We’re excited to share some news today. Saddleworth and Oldham group of Whit Friday Band Contests receive The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
Full details on our website: https://digglebandcontest.co.uk

With #whitfriday nearly upon us, we’re looking to raise money for the Tameside & Saddleworth organisers through this Just Giving page. So far we’re half way to our target.

If you feel able, please donate towards the future of #whitfriday...

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