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Christmas cheer on a wet day in Malham

By Colin Petch

Saturday December 1 saw the National Trust in the Yorkshire Dales, stage their annual Christmas event at Malham Cove.

Despite heavy rain and squelchy conditions underfoot, upwards of 200 local people and visitors joined the Trust and Skipton Brass for what has become a ‘must do’ festive event in North Yorkshire.

The majestic limestone cove provided a stunning backdrop as everyone gathered, belted-out much-loved Christmas carols, including Silent Night and Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Protected by a pop-up gazebo, Skipton Brass were undaunted by the weather conditions and their playing reverberated around the natural amphitheatre, providing a very memorable experience.

Sarah Paul from the band wasn’t at all put off by the weather: “We farm above Arncliffe – so I’m used to weather like this!”

Sarah joined Skipton Brass 14 years ago, after seeing an advert seeking players in the Craven Herald. “I wanted something to do while my kids were at gymnastic club, so went along. Now as well as playing, I’m the club secretary.”

The event at Malham was the idea of the National Trust, after a number of musicians had commented on the good acoustics.

Heather Berrow from the Trust, who co-ordinates the event explained: “While we do take a chance every year with the weather, the sort of people who visit Malhamdale tend to have the right sort of kit – and aren’t usually put off by rain dripping off their noses!”

Heather told Yorkshire Voice: “While this is a free event, we do have a collection, but the most important thing is connecting with visitors to show them what the National Trust is doing in this part of the Dales. It kicks off Christmas too – and families love coming along.”

The event also provides a much-needed boost for local businesses at a time of year when visitor numbers are traditionally low.

After the concert, while many people headed to local pubs and cafés, for the dedicated members of Skipton Brass, it was back to the car park – and a hop over into Wharfedale – where they were scheduled to play their second set of the day at Grassington’s Dickensian Festival.

“If you’re the lead trumpet in a brass band, December can get a bit crazy,” says Sarah, as she dries off, before heading away to provide the musical accompaniment to another festive event.

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