WE’VE had a cold and wet start to 2024 but this year is going to be a golden one for an East Hampshire musical institution.

The Liss Band have got plenty to blow their trumpet about as the village group is approaching its 50th birthday.

The brass band hasn’t ordered a cake just yet as their official birthday could be one of three days, depending on whether a meeting, rehearsal or performance is considered the starting point. But half a century of music is definitely something to be celebrated with a 50th anniversary book in the making and a reunion concert planned.

The pair who first ran with the baton were Liss Junior School headteacher Derek Mason and his deputy, David Smith. They were keen on forming a band to give the village’s musically-minded youngsters somewhere to play once they left school, with the first meeting taking place on July 4, 1974.

Maurice Wright – whose daughter was one of the first players to join the band – led the first rehearsal of junior school pupils, friends and family two months later. Their first official engagement was Carols at St Laurence’s on December 15 with two of the debutants still playing with Liss Band today.

There’s no sign of a closing finale anytime soon as the “community band” continues to attract young musicians while their schedule remains as busy as ever, especially around Christmas.

Although they have taken part in tournaments, Neil Carline insists they’re not a competitive outfit, with members performing out of joy and pride in representing their village.

He said: “Some people who joined the band at a young age have had professional music careers. It’s not only provided a hobby but has also facilitated some promising musicians.

“We just do it for the public and the number of players the Liss Band has and continues to attract is testament to its success.

“Children aren’t getting into music and playing instruments as much as they used to and it’s on a downward trend. But the number of younger Liss Band members is still at a healthy level, so that’s really encouraging.”

The band has enjoyed some memorable outings over the years with performances in Denmark, Germany and France but the Liss area remains its focus.

This year’s programme includes a reception for the band by the Liss Council, a festival in Devon and a 50th anniversary concert on November 2 at Festival Hall.

There’s also plans to put up a bandstand at Newman Collard but the timescale is unclear.

An official history is close to completion but it’s not too late for “fans” and past members to share their memories.

Mr Carline said: “Fifty years of history is quite a lot to try and distil as over the years we’ve taken a lot of players of different ages from the Liss area.

“We put out on social media a call for people to get in touch and we’ve had people come to us but if anyone does have any newspaper cuttings, pictures, stories or anecdotes or memories they want to share then we’d like to hear.”

Anyone who would like to contribute to the official Liss Band history should email [email protected]