Ex-miner’s dying wish to reform Doncaster colliery band set to come true

Brain tumour victim, Alan Needham, 62, conducting.

Brain tumour victim, Alan Needham, 62, conducting.

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A former miner with an incurable brain tumour is set to see his dying wish of reforming his old Doncaster colliery band come true.

Life-long music lover Alan Needham was a dedicated member of the Polypipe Rossington Band from the age of eight up until it disbanded in 2004.

Brain tumour victim, Alan Needham, 62, with the trophys he has won for music.

Brain tumour victim, Alan Needham, 62, with the trophys he has won for music.

After the 62-year-old father-of-two was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour, a Type 4 Glioblastoma, in January last year he told The Star it was his dying wish to see his beloved Polypipe Rossington Band perform together one last time.

The Star appealed for former members of the colliery band, which won 23 brass band championships in 80 years, to help make brave Alan’s dying dream a reality AND dozens of his old school friends and fellow musicians got in touch.

And now the band, along with a selection of other musicians, are set to put on a brass band spectacular next month with Alan at the helm as conductor.

The former prison service worker, who describes music as his main passion in life, said: “I can’t put into words what it would mean to see us all play together again. I’ve never been into sport, or drinking, and for me this has been my life.”

Brain tumour victim, Alan Needham, 62. with his partner Sarah Schofield, 38.

Brain tumour victim, Alan Needham, 62. with his partner Sarah Schofield, 38.

Alan’s brother Ray Needham said the number of people that have contacted the family to help put the band back together ‘overwhelming’. “It’s been absolutely fantastic,” said Ray, of Station Road, Hatfield.

The 66-year-old added: “People have responded very well to it. I think it’s fair to say it was his dying wish to see a lot of those people in the same room again playing together... and now he’ll get to see it happen. We’re going to play a piece of music on the night that Alan’s composed himself called In Memoriam. It’s an amalgamation of Abide With Me and Gresford.

“Since the article a lot of his old school friends have got back in touch which has made him feel very supported and given him a bit of a boost. He’s very strong, but these things escalate quickly, and he knows that.”

The discovery of Alan’s brain tumour came as a ‘terrible shock’. He first became aware something was wrong when he collapsed and was unable to speak and believed he was having a stroke.

Brain tumour victim, Alan Needham, 62.

Brain tumour victim, Alan Needham, 62.

Alan was rushed into hospital and was given a CT scan, which revealed that Alan had a tumour almost four centimetres wide, that doctors believe had been there for months.

“My life has been change forever. It was a terrible shock to learn that I had a brain tumour,” he said.

When Alan was diagnosed with the tumour just under 18 months ago, he was given just six months to live.

But after extremely aggressive chemo-radiation treatment, the euphonium player is still battling the aggressive form of cancer today, and says he wants to do what he can with the time he has left.

One of his goals has been to create awareness of brain tumours, and raise funds for the Brain Tumour Research charity.

The determined grandad has already raised more than £10,000 for the charity since his diagnosis last year and also hopes to raise money for the Lindsey Lodge Hospice in Scunthorpe, where he receives weekly treatment, through the concert next month.

Funeral arranger Jeff Alsopp is a childhood friend of Alan’s who got back in touch with him following the appeal, and thanks to him Rossington Co-operative Funeralcare is set to sponsor the Rossington colliery band’s reunion concert, which will be held at the Rossington Miners Welfare on Friday, June 19, at 7.30pm.

n Tickets cost £5 and can be purchased from Rossington Co-operative Funeral Care or from Rossington Miners Welfare.

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