ONE of the region's top brass bands is to record a CD to help it pay for expensive running costs.

Fishburn Band, one of only three North-East bands in the national premier division, is planning to cut a disc to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.

Graham O'Connor, who has conducted the band for the past year, is preparing a programme for inclusion on the CD.

The band, formerly Fishburn Colliery Band, was founded in 1953 and has been in the premier division of the national competition for 14 years.

In its early days running costs were not a worry, because the band received financial help through the colliery. Now, members have to cover all their own running expenses.

Billy Elliot, band vice-president and supporters' group secretary, said: "We need to raise about £15,000 annually to keep going.

"We run a variety of money-raising activities and among them has been sponsored walks, organised by Judy Evans.

"She has done excellent work over the past two years and has raised about £4,000 through her walking.

"This has included a sponsored walk from Fishburn to Durham on Miners' Gala day, and she is hoping to do the same this year."

With Prime Minister Tony Blair as its president, the band has 45 members drawn from a wide area of the North-East, including Sedgefield, Coxhoe, Hartlepool, Darlington Bowburn and Sunderland

Now closely connected with Fishburn WMC, the band rehearses in the old colliery medical centre.