It was music to the ears of the people of Luton that the new bandstand has opened in the town – and it was all thanks to Rotary.
It has taken four years to complete, but the Rotary Bandstand for Luton is now up and running, and has hosted its first concert in Wardown Park.
Luton’s four Rotary clubs worked together set up a charity, the Rotary Bandstand for Luton Trust, to commission, build and gift a new bandstand in the park for the local community.
The Edwardian-style building has been designed to blend in with the rest of the park and is now available for music, dance and drama events in the lovely setting this beautiful park.
Luton’s four Rotary clubs worked together to construct the bandstand in Wardown park.
Lord Bill McKenzie, patron of the project, recently handed over the deeds of the bandstand to Luton Borough Council, and the Mayor of Luton, Cllr Tahir Malik, was there to receive them.
The project, costing £250,000, was financed by large donations from the local charity, the Steel Charitable Trust, and from Rotary friends.
It is part of a cultural revival in Luton with lots of other exciting things happening in the town.
The handover ceremony was attended by many local dignitaries and people who had participated in the project.
Also present was Helen Nellis, the Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Meryl Dolling, the High Sherriff of Bedfordshire and Debbie Hodge, in one of her last functions as President of Rotary in Great Britain & Ireland.
Debbie said: “The project epitomises Rotary with its action for lasting change.
“The bandstand celebrates cooperation between Rotary clubs, the local council and the community.
“It celebrates music and the opportunity for everyone to enjoy live performance – it may bring memories to the not so young and inspiration to the young!
“Music and outdoor activities help to keep people remain sane. The music will evoke lasting interest and encourage young people to get involved, starting with music lessons.
“The bandstand will bring pleasure to many people, and it’s all down to the four Luton Rotary clubs.”
This is a great example of the true spirit of Rotary, with all the Luton Rotary clubs working together in the local community to provide people with a new cultural venue for music and other entertainment.”
Also attending was Global Grant Scholar Aubrey Seader, from Rotary District 6590 in Bloomington, Indiana, USA.
Earlier she had visited the Luton and Dunstable Hospital as her district is the International Partner for a Rotary Global Grant, hosted by Luton North Rotary Club.
She was pleased to be present and will tell them all about it when she is home.
Chairman of the trustees of the Rotary Bandstand for Luton, Alan Corkhill, introduced the proceedings and gave a brief summary of the events leading up to the gift.
He mentioned the launch at Luton Hoo, which was attended by Peter King, who was Rotary GB&I President in 2014/2015, advertising on a local bus, and a bandstand design competition with a £5,000 first prize for the best entry.
The competition was run in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire, and the Rotary Youth Trust for Luton.
The project took 14 weeks to complete, following the ground breaking ceremony in February, which was attended by District Governor, Dave Ford, and the presidents of all four Luton clubs.
“At the first concert in the park, listening to the music there was pleasure all around. It was agreed that the past four years’ work had been very worthwhile,” said Paul Denton, from Luton North Rotary.
“Music was again in the park after a gap of over 60 years. For some it brought back memories of the Easter bonnet parades and the Luton Brass Band, when it was among the country’s top brass.
“Its finest moment came in 1923 when it won the national championship at Crystal Palace, the southernmost English brass band to achieve the honour. That honour still stands today.”
For the future, a grant from the Luton Arts Funds has been applied for to fund a Rotary concert in the park in September, featuring the cross-section of local groups and communities in the town.
Paul Denton added: “This is a great example of the true spirit of Rotary, with all the Luton Rotary clubs working together in the local community to provide people with a new cultural venue for music and other entertainment.”
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