A SILVER band is hoping to hit a chord with German tourists and help revive a dale's ailing economy.

Members of Stanhope Silver Band are travelling to Germany today.

The 56 musicians and their supporters will be acting as unofficial ambassadors for Weardale, in County Durham.

Apart from playing concerts, band members will be manning a travelling exhibition aimed at boosting the tourism industry in Weardale, which is trying to attract more tourists following the closure of the cement works at Eastgate.

They are hoping to appeal to the Germans' love of outdoor activities being developed in Weardale, such as hiking, cycling and canoeing.

Band secretary David Heatherington will be among the party. He said: "We see this as a great opportunity to fly the flag for Weardale and try to dispel some of the gloom that has descended on the dale.

"There is no reason why the Germans, with their love of the outdoor life, should not regard Weardale as a major stopping-off point on the tourist map."

The week-long visit will take in four towns - Cologne, Hachenburg, Koblentz and Wahlrod - and include talks with their chambers of trade.

Support for the visit has come from the Leader+ development agency, at Alston, in Cumbria, with a £7,320 grant.

The trip is one of the first to be funded under the EU's trans-national programme.