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Dereham music director gives huge boost to military charity

PUBLISHED: 11:00 28 September 2017

Picture. Leigh Sharpe

Picture. Leigh Sharpe

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The musical director of a well known Norfolk brass band has successfully completed a cycling challenge in aid of Help for Heroes and is now preparing for a special concert at Wymondham Abbey.

Picture. Leigh SharpePicture. Leigh Sharpe

Leigh Sharpe, from Dereham, served in the army for 29 years before joining the Cawston Band who are set to perform at Wymondham to commemorate the 100th anniversary of an infamous First World War battle at Passchendaele.

He recently returned from an annual fundraising event in France, called The Big Battlefield Bike Ride, where he says he earned himself the nickname the ‘Biking Bugler’.

“I helped with the ride last year by playing Last Post and Reveille at all of the commemorative services which happened daily as the ride progressed,” he said.

“I was so taken with the camaraderie and inspired by the other riders that I had to go back and do it again, but this year as a cyclist.

Mr Sharpe joined 180 other fundraisers in Lille, France on September 10 and began a 350-mile journey that passed through Waterloo and traced the footsteps of the 1944 Allied Forces to reach Arnhem, the ride’s finishing point.

“My partner and I both took part in it and it was a big challenge. We cycled for five days, mostly in torrential rain - it was horrific. We had one nice day but otherwise it was torrential,” he said.

It took four and a half days to complete the gruelling cycle ride but the cyclists managed to raise £590,000 for Help for Heroes. Mr Sharpe says he is now looking forward to taking part in the challenge again next year.

He is now back home in Dereham and is working closely with the Cawston Band to carefully select music that will make a fitting tribute to the men who sacrificed their lives during the Battle of Passchendaele.

Speaking of the tribute, he added: “The music we have chosen for the concert is a tribute to all those who died during Passchendaele, WWI and WWII and other military campaigns since then. I hope as many people as possible will come along and hear just how impressive brass band music sounds in the Abbey.”

Tickets for the concert are £10 and can be purchased from www.ticketsource.co.uk/cawston-band or at Puffs Toy Shop in Wymondham.

Tickets for the concert are £10 and can be purchased online or at Puffs Toy Shop in Wymondham.

Mr Sharpe is continuing to raise money for Help for Heroes and donations can be made online.

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