ONE of the region's renowned bands is hoping to beat the best of British brass at the weekend.

The Reg Vardy (Ever Ready) Band has rehearsed each night this week at its base in Stanley, County Durham.

The band travels to London to represent the region at the national finals in the Royal Albert Hall today.

The country's top 20 bands, who each won their place in regional competitions, will be judged on the same piece of music, a commissioned piece by Michael Ball called All the Flowers of the Mountain.

Band manager Les Palmer said: "Preparations on the test piece have gone well and, in the run-up to the event, rehearsals have been held every night.

"Of course, the standard will be excep- tional. The bands competing are the very best from across England, Scotland and Wales."

This weekend will be the band's 37th appearance in the national finals and Mr Palmer said the musicians were aiming to better their previous best position of fourth place.

The band secured its place in the final after winning the North of England championships in March.

The musicians, who are conducted by Ray Farr, will be dressed in scarlet uniforms, which they were able to renew after signing a five-year sponsorship deal with Sunderland-based motor retailer Reg Vardy earlier this year.

Sir Peter Vardy, chief executive of Reg Vardy, said: "The band are an outstanding group of musicians with an excellent conductor. I have every confidence that they will put in an exceptional performance at the Royal Albert Hall and they take the good wishes of everyone at Reg Vardy with them."

Published: 16/10/2004