A TOWN band which is usually busy in the run up to Christmas is not letting the pandemic stop it spread festive cheer.

Cockermouth Mechanics Band is a much-loved part of the town's annual celebration. It usually performs at the hugely popular lights switch on and also the Christmas Eve carols round the tree.

These events and many others have been axed this year - which is why band members thought it would be a great idea to create an online advent calendar, with a member playing a different festive tune each day.

Band secretary John Wilson said: "Normally at this time of year we would be very busy. Due to covid restrictions, we are not able to meet, so this year, we’re going to do things differently.

"Every day during December, a video of a band member playing a carol or a Christmas tune will be posted on our Facebook page.

"We hope people will enjoy a bit of festive cheer with us. And if covid restrictions allow, people may also be lucky enough to hear band members out and about in the Cockermouth area playing Christmas carols and tunes."

The band has not been able to earn money at concerts but still has many expenses. It is therefore inviting people to donate.

As well as raising funds for the band it will also be raising money for charity in honour of two much-loved band members who died this year.

"The families of our two dear friends and band members whom we sadly lost this year – Paul Sanders and Bobby Goldie – have nominated their preferred charities and they are Hospice at Home West Cumbria and Cancer Research UK respectively. Any money raised will be equally distributed to these three causes," said John.

There are 37 members in the main band, ranging in age from 13 to 80-plus. There is also an Apprentice Band of 20 players, some of whom are as young as 8.

"We are hopeful that new rules in December might at least allow us to play carols outdoors in Cockermouth and in or outside the care homes as we do every year," said John.