Marching on: Susan keeps family jazz band tradition going

Ian Dunlop, right, and Gary Petlow on parade in July 1974.

Ian Dunlop, right, and Gary Petlow on parade in July 1974.

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We certainly hit the right note by focusing on jazz bands in Sunderland.

Thanks go to Susan Metcalf, nee Self, whose own involvement in the scene is still going strong and who shared her history of the tradition.

Nan at the back with, left to right, Kathleen Self, Susan Self (now Metcalf), Robert Self and Jean Self.

Nan at the back with, left to right, Kathleen Self, Susan Self (now Metcalf), Robert Self and Jean Self.

She runs the Ryhope Allstars after taking over from her mum, Mrs Nan Self. It boasts 35 marching members who love being part of the set-up.

This family tradition dates back to the 1960s. Nan’s brother had started up a band in Silksworth and she wanted to “do the same thing in Ryhope”.

A committee of four men and four women was formed.

“Posters were put up in all the local shops, community centres and schools to tell everyone that a new band was being formed,” said Susan.

The Ryhope Allstars performing.

The Ryhope Allstars performing.

“It was not easy and to get started. The local shops and people helped fundraising by having dance nights, raffles and all members paid subs and sold tickets for a weekly draw tote double” – where members could win money.

“The first meeting took place in May 1961 and new recruits were asked to meet at a local recreation ground.”

No one was sure what the response would be. They need not have worried. More than 100 came along “to see what the band was all about”.

Susan, who has marched with the Allstars since she was three, now runs the band alongside her niece. Nan passed away more than ten years ago.

Scott Lewis Dunlop, 3, wins one of his first ever competitions. He is now 19 and still with the band.

Scott Lewis Dunlop, 3, wins one of his first ever competitions. He is now 19 and still with the band.

Susan added: “I am proud to say, as one of Mrs Self’s daughters we are still going as strong now as we were back in the 60s.

“As a family, jazz bands have played a major part of the Self’s family life.

“Five out of seven of my brothers and sisters have been part of the band, and to date, myself and my younger sister alongside my nieces and nephews, we are still running and part of what has been a life long commitment.”

Next week – World championships and a police escort.