Band hits high notes in memory of actor Postlethwaite
WITH tears in their eyes and pit helmets lit, the members of Grimethorpe Colliery Band gathered to recreate a moment in history.
In a stirring emotional tribute to late actor Pete Postlethwaite, the band - the real life inspiration for Brassed Off’s Grimley band - recreated the 1994 film’s most famous scene.
In the film the band gather outside the hospital window of seriously ill band conductor Danny - played by Postlethwaite - and serenade him with ‘Danny Boy’.
In real life fans of both the film and of the actor gathered in Grimethorpe to see the band don their pit helmets, take up their instruments and play Danny Boy once again in memory of the much- loved actor who died earlier this month following a long battle with testicular cancer.
“Brassed Off put Grimethorpe and the colliery band firmly on the world’s map,” explained band manager Colin Preston.
“Pete Postlethwaite was a big part of that and remained involved with the band even after filming wrapped. He was a great man and friend of Grimethorpe Band.”
The film - also starring Ewan McGregor and Tara Fitzgerald - told the story of the troubles facing a colliery brass band in Grimley, a thinly-disguised version of the real Barnsley village of Grimethorpe, in the aftermath of the pit closures.
Doncaster’s own former art college building on Chappell Drive was used as the hospital.
Colin explained it was the members themselves who insisted on marking Pete’s passing with a fitting tribute.
“There is a tradition with brass bands that, when a conductor passes, their favourite hymn or piece of music is played,” Colin explained. “We wanted to do the same for Pete - for our conductor.”
The band has an impressive 93-year history and is now one of the few remaining touring bands, with 50 engagements already in the diary for this year throughout the UK and Australia.
The band has even been invited to play at Pete’s memorial service in London next month, to be held at St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden.
Colin said: “They got in touch to check our availability and we have discussed the possibility of playing ‘William Tell’ inside the church and ‘Danny Boy’ in the church garden after the service. It means a lot to us to be there.
The band will also be holding a Brassed Off 50th Anniversary Tour this year which will see members visit Sheffield City Hall.
They are even hoping to rope in some of the film’s original cast.
Pete Postlethwaite OBE, who starred in The Usual Suspects, Alien 3, In the Name of the Father, The Shipping News, The Constant Gardener, Inception, and Romeo + Juliet, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1990.