During the 1950s the band was led by Wilf Garrett. During this period the band grew and developed into a fine unit, performing for local events such as fetes and concerts but we also progressed to a standard required for a contesting band. Our prowess and success in the contest arena were a great feature during this era; one of the photographs demonstrates our ‘major win’ at the Haywards Heath Contest in 1952.
Under the strong leadership Wilf and his totally committed secretary, Bill Fishlock, the band truly moved forward.
It was during these years that Wilf successfully began the musical development and training of young players, the fore-runner of our Youth Band of later years.
In the 1950’s the band participated in the annual bonfire parades at Shere, Chiddingfold and Billingshurst. Many funny tales of these events have been recounted to us by bandsmen from that era; some of the new younger players had definitely improved the playing of the band during this spell but it seems that their marching skills were in need of attention!
The 1960s became a period of change. Wilf Garrett left the band in 1963 and It Was that time when the membership of the band dwindled down to about 6 players.
However there followed a period of rebuilding under a series of conductors. We were very fortunate to have members of the armed forces stationed locally - and they assisted with both the leadership and as players. Their help was invaluable at this time.
For a short while, the band received an educational grant towards the cost of paying the musical director. In return, the band started teaching adult learners through the local Adult Education Scheme.
A similar grant scheme had been in place with the local Council between the late 1940s and the mid 1970s; every year the council paid the band a small fixed fee for which we agreed to carry out four engagements each year. We considered them as our ‘borough jobs’.
In the late 1960s the band’s playing had improved sufficiently to return to the contesting arena.