Brass band chairman's final bow
A former miner who was chairman of a brass band for 40 years was given a send-off by 25 of his fellow musicians at his funeral.
Jim Ball, who was chairman of the Leicestershire Co-op (Snibston) Band for 40 years, died of a heart attack on January 19 as he was setting off to watch the band perform in a competition.
On Thursday, about 100 mourners gathered for his funeral at St John The Baptist Church, in Hugglescote, near Coalville, where his band, as well as some members of the Ratby and Enderby bands, played the music for hymns including Abide With Me and I Walk With God.
Mr Ball, 76, of Greenhill, Coalville, who was a miner for more than 30 years, collapsed as he was about to set off to watch the band perform in the Butlin's Mineworkers competition at Butlin's in Skegness.
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Mr Ball's widow, Joan, 77, has been the band's secretary for 34 years, son Gary, 50, plays the cornet, daughter Sue Boyles, plays tenor horn and her husband Steve plays the e-flat bass.
Joan said: "A lot of people said they had never heard a brass band play at a funeral before.
"It was lovely, a very emotional time and it was unbelievable how it went.
"He had a good send-off. There were one or two old players who came to play because they thought so much of him."
Gary said the family were going to Skegness for a contest and had got in the car when his father had a heart attack.
He was driven to Coalville hospital, before paramedics took him to Leicester Royal Infirmary, where he died.
Gary said: "The band were due to play in a competition and asked us if we wanted them to pull out, but dad wouldn't have wanted that.
"Their performance was about dad primarily, it was like a memorial performance to him. The band went on stage for him, nobody else.
"We've had support from all the local bands. It has been tremendous. Dad was connected with the band for 40 years and although he never played he was the chairman for 30 years.
"He never missed a concert or a competition."
Mr Ball was born in Hugglescote, where his funeral was held.
Joan said: "He loved the church there, he always had a soft spot for it, he liked to hear the peel of its bells.
"We've had such a response to his death from the band community and the wider community, it has overwhelmed us, it's really unbelievable.
"We never realised the amount of people he'd had contact with over the years. It makes you realise how involved he was with everything."
The band's musical director Graham Jacklin said: "Jim will be much missed. Although he never played, he was always at rehearsals and never missed a concert or contest despite his health and mobility failing in later years."