Fanfare for new bandstand

A SPECIAL group of people who had pledged to put a "smile on the face of Gorleston," did just that at weekend when the beachside bandstand was officially opened.

A SPECIAL group of people who had pledged to put a "smile on the face of Gorleston," did just that at weekend when the beachside bandstand was officially opened.

The vision of the Victorian-style bandstand came from Gorleston Rotary Club as part of their aim to celebrate the centenary. And although it has been a few years down the line, the appreciative crowds of more than 300 marked the opening - some with tears in their eyes.

The funds for the project have all been raised by Rotary, with the added bonus of donations, grants and poignantly with people buying special solid brass plaques around the base to commemorate the names of relatives and friends.

Among them were the names James and Gladys Mitchell, and Arthur Harlow. James and Gladys' daughters Ann Diddams of Kent and Jean Harlow of Gorleston had bought the plaque in memory of their parents - James was a tattooist on the Britannia Pier in Great Yarmouth.

Mrs Harlow's children and herself had also funded a plaque in memory of her late husband Arthur, who died in 1975.

For both sisters, seeing the plaques for the first time - and uncannily side by side on the base - was an emotional moment.

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Pat and Keith Rant had also contributed, getting a plaque for their grandchildren. The Rants, of Gorleston, also had another reason for supporting the project; son Mitchell's company Engraphics of Yarmouth had produced the plaques.

Brian Ollington, chairman of Rotary's bandstand committee paid tribute to everyone who had supported the fund-raising. He said: "This wonderful bandstand of a facility for all groups in our community - the young, the elderly, disabled people, those with musical, artistic or theatrical ability, indeed anyone interested in performing. It is also for residents and visitors who simply want to listen, observe and enjoy.

He introduced Rotary District Governor John Harvey who called the opening a historic event.

The bandstand was then officially handed over into the care of the borough council, and the mayor, councillor Terry Easter. In his acceptance he said: "It is an asset of Gorleston and one which enhances beach gardens," and, referring to the fact the new bandstand was standing in the place of a long-since demolished Victorian version, added: "It is fitting the heritage is to continue for many years to come."

The first music to be heard from the award-winning Great Yarmouth Brass Band was the National Anthem, followed by a mixed programme, enjoyed by the audience in deckchairs, on blankets having picnics, and by the casual passers-by who came to see what was going on. Sunday and Monday's programmes were slightly amended but the music still played on, thanks to the Mango Steel Band, Great Yarmouth Youth Brass and Wrentham Brass.

Rotary have some plaques yet to be taken up, anyone interested should email John Jary at

Any band wishing to play on the new facility should email Donna Bidwell at