In our regular feature, authors from different walks of Manx life offer a personal perspective on #MyBiosphere. This month, William King writes:
The Isle of Man is home to an incredibly rich music scene. One reason I’ve been spending time outside this year is because I am a member of Rushen Silver Band. This year is the band’s 70th anniversary, so to celebrate we’ve been returning to places from the band’s earlier years, as well as finding new locations to perform in.
One of the most special of these events took place on Good Friday, when we returned to our roots.
Before it became the Rushen Silver Band in 1949, the then Surby Silver Band, performed a service at Fleshwick beach every year on Good Friday, maintaining an event first started by the Sailors’ Chapel Mission Band, who visited from Liverpool.
On Good Friday, we walked from the Ballafesson Band Room down to the beach where Reverend Chris Belfield conducted a short service. The day will stick in my mind forever, with the band on the beach looking up to the land where hundreds of people had made an effort to come along and hear us play in such a beautiful setting. It seems strange that the band room is only up the road from Fleshwick, yet the tradition of performing there annually lapsed years ago.
The sun was shining, the sea glimmering and the birds were singing. We played Ellan Vannin and the congregation sang along. The words seemed more appropriate than ever as we stood in the shadow of the ‘green hills by the sea’.
I’ve returned to Fleshwick since Good Friday and, as soon as I saw the landscape, I was transported back to the music, the people, the birds and the beach on that day, which made the Isle of Man feel like the most special place on Earth.
Later in the year, the band was invited to Groudle Glen to take part in their ‘cliff top concerts’. It seemed like a nice ‘step up...’, moving from a beach to a cliff top.
I hadn’t been to Groudle Glen since visiting the Santa trains during primary school, so this was a lovely, nostalgic trip. The view from the Sea Lion Rocks was outstanding and, once again, made me realise how beautiful our ‘gem of God’s Earth’ is.
The weather was less kind to us than it had been in Fleshwick, but the rain stayed away and you could see out to the horizon. Our journey back towards the glen onboard the beautifully restored steam train was a chance to chat with friends in the open air, marvelling at the Island’s stunning east coast.
The response we’ve received from the public on all these occasions is truly heart-warming. After we’d performed on the quarterdeck in Port Erin during August, a man who I didn’t know thanked me for the music and said it had made his children’s day. A few days later I had a text from a friend saying he’d heard us from the sea and it took a beautiful day to the next level.
As you can see, playing in Rushen Silver Band, has meant I can be outside and enjoy the Manx environment this year. It’s not just the land or the water that mean we’re so special. It’s the people, the music and the relationship we have with our Island.
- William King is Deputy Head Boy at Castle Rushen High School and works at Manx Radio. He lives in Colby and plays bass trombone in the Rushen Silver Band.