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Success in Skegness- Butlins Contest 2020

So it’s been five years since I’ve been to Butlins and it’s nice to see that, like the other wonders of the world, Butlins hasn’t changed much. There was still that flutter of excitement ask we drove through the gates on Friday night. It’s has to be said, there is something magical about Butlins at night. I don’t know if it’s all the lights…or the fact you can’t see much of the place in the dark. However, what took place over the weekend was certainly magical and the only variables responsible for that were the people I was with and the music we produced.


Friday dragged slower than an arthritic percussionist and when it was finally time to go home, you have never seen a grown adult skip out of work so enthusiastically. The journey to Skegness turned into a four hour concert spectacular, with hits such as Sweet Caroline, Bohemian Rhapsody and Hey Jude being performed by myself and the other half with much gusto. Find yourself a person a son that doesn’t just tolerate just tolerate your lunacy but actively joins in. Having said that, I was very excited, it was the banding equivalent of taking a child to Disneyland- the poor lad probably wished his car came with an ejector passenger seat by about the third hour.

A post shared by Liv Appleton (@liv.appleton) on Jan 10, 2020 at 11:19am PST

We finally arrived at Butlins and after a good ten minutes of circling the place, we found our chalet- it really does all look the same. After dumping our stuff in the room, we bonded with out fellow chalet mates over, what I’m going to call, a ‘Buca Bomb’. This consisted of pink sambuca and lemonade and I have to say I’m a big fan of it- the weekend was off to an explosive start. As it was the other half’s first time at Butlins, of course, I wanted to show him everything this weirdly wonderful place has to offer. There were two problems with this. One: I couldn’t remember where everything was- five years is a long time and I’ve always been drunk when navigating my way round. Two: of all the weekends they could have decided to close Jaks for refurbishment, they chose the banding weekend?! I’d spent weeks hyping up the place only for it to be closed. Big mistake Butlins. Huge! We made do with meandering around the Jellyfish Bar. One thing I do love about Butlins is seeing banders I’ve not met up with for ages and striking friendships with banders I’ve not previously met. It was nice being a social (and slightly sozzled) butterfly over the course of the weekend. With a 6am get-up looming, it was time for bed. Uniform was prepared, alarms were set- I was ready for battle, but not ready for what the events that would take place on Saturday.


I am NOT a morning person, by any stretch of the imagination, so having to get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday for a 7:30am rehearsal was painful to say the least. Setting out my makeup bag the night before was wishful thinking, as I had just enough energy to wash my face and brush my teeth- blending foundation and applying eyeliner was just a stretch too far for that time of morning. I looked as delightful as I felt. After a quick run-through of some hymns and sections of the test piece it was back to the chalets to prepare for our number seven draw. I used the time to say my mantras in the bathroom like a loon and paint my face so I no longer resembled a corpse that someone had dug up and shoved in a band uniform.

As we approached the warm up tent, a couple of hours later, the nerves kicked in with a vengeance. This performance was more important to me than any other contest in the last twelve months. It marked the end of my time as a member of Eccles Borough Band and as much as I don’t like to put pressure on any performance…I wanted to go out on a win. We’d worked so hard and I was so proud walking onto Centre Stage knowing what we had achieved in rehearsals in just a couple of weeks. The performance began. You know a band means a lot to you when you spend the majority of a performance holding back tears. There was at least three occasions during Symphonic Episodes that I thought my sweaty eyes were going to spill over, but I managed to hold it together until the last note when one tear did make an escape and I had to swiftly wipe it away before facing the audience. I walked away from the contest stage immensely proud of the band and their performance.

As I applied my false eyelashes on Saturday evening, ready for a night in Skegvegas, I did have a feeling that they may have been a mistake and I can safely say I will NEVER be wearing false eyelashes to the results of a band contest ever again. It seemed to take a small century until the First Section results were finally read out. I told myself I’d be happy with top six and if we made the top three I would be over the moon. I was completely lying to myself- I wanted First Place. Well number six was announced- not us…..number five….number four….the nerves increased with each announcement. As second place was announced, I started making my peace with the fact that it wasn’t our day and it just wasn’t to be and that I was perfectly fine with it (I was not perfectly fine with that, the sting of disappointment was worse than eating a packet of salt and vinegar crisps with a hand covered in papercuts!). The announcer went on to explain that the winning band had left one of their parts on stage- well that was it then, it can’t have been us. No one left their music on stage. Did they?

‘And so the band in first place….’

I prepared myself for the salty papercut of disappointment. Results don’t matter. I was proud of the performance. Everything is fine.


Have you ever seen that video of Rylan Clarke on X Factor a couple of years ago when he finds out he’s got through to the live shows? See gif below for reference.

Got that image in your mind?

That was my reaction to winning the First Section at Butlins. I’m not exaggerating when I say I was a mess. There was mascara in my eyes, I’d knocked my eyelashes wonky and eyeliner was smeared around my eyes so I resembled a raccoon- it was an attractive look. We’d done it. A quick trip to the bathroom to sort my face out before the celebrating could commence- my face would have frightened small children. Never wearing falsies or liner to results again. Ever.

It’s safe to say that my time with Eccles Borough concluded spectacularly. We celebrated in true Eccles style with many a beer shared, much hugging and drinking prosecco out of the trophy. I would like to apologise to anyone who bumped into me after about 11pm on Saturday night- I probably didn’t make much sense! I was not well the morning after, but despite the hangover, I was still over the moon with everything myself and the band achieved over the weekend.

Time To Say Goodbye

Saying goodbye is never easy. I didn’t know where I was headed in my banding life at the beginning of the year. I was anticipating not hacking it and backing out again after a couple of months. I had a mind full of doubts, but one by one these doubts were silenced. I joined Eccles not knowing if I could cope sitting on a soloist seat permanently again, but I did. I didn’t think I’d regain the confidence I lost during my wobble, but I did. I didn’t think I’d ever get my love for playing and banding life back, but I absolutely have. Band geek mode has been fully restored. All of this is down to the support and experiences I have had with Eccles Borough Band this year. I genuinely think I’d still only be doing the odd dep job and allowing my instruments to gather dust if I hadn’t accepted the flugel seat last January. For six years now, Eccles has had a big piece of my heart and I didn’t think I could love them any more than I did, but I do and I cannot thank them enough.

Well, what a weekend! So proud to have been a part of the winning performance with Eccles. My last contest with the band couldn't have been any more brilliant, there were many laughs and many MANY happy tears shed. Thank you so much to the band for the support and the memories over the last year. Thank you to my wonderful other half for driving all the way to Skegvegas, calming my nerves before the performance and picking me up off the floor and wiping the mascara off my face when we won 😂 Very happy bander! Well done guys! #EFL – – – – – #musicblog #music #musicblogger #musician #brassband #brassbands #flugel #trumpet #blog #butlins #butlinsmineworkers #brassbandcontest #brassmusician #happiness #music #ecclesboroughband #northernblogger #brassbandblog #wiganblogger #manchesterblogger #liverpoolblogger #weblognorth #discoverunder1k #discoverunder500 #itsnotatrumpet #instablog #instabloggers

A post shared by Liv Appleton (@liv.appleton) on Jan 12, 2020 at 5:31am PST

Striking Whilst The Iron is Hot

Now to look ahead to the future. A year ago I certainly did not think that I would be playing full time let alone accepting a Principal cornet seat. I would have laughed if you suggested it and , when I was offered the seat, it took a while to talk myself into it. After my experiences in the last couple of years, I know that life can change pretty quickly. The brain is a funny organ that can be brilliant, but it can also be incredibly destructive. I feel for the first time that I am in control of my mental health, so I’m striking whilst the iron is hot and pushing myself to be the best I can be. Yes trophies would be wonderful, but my main goal this year is to build on the progress I’ve already made both with my playing and managing my anxiety. I’m beyond excited to start my new adventure with Freckleton Band and seeing what the rest of 2020 brings!

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