On 25 January 2017, Cory Band was approved by RCT council to receive the honour of the Freedom of the Borough of the Rhondda, after its incredible achievement of the 2016 Grand Slam – the first time any brass band in the world has won all four major contests in a calendar year.
Only a handful of awards have ever been given – to date The Royal Welsh, tenor Stuart Burrows OBE, the Miners of South Wales, writer Elaine Morgan OBE, the Welsh Guards, the late Bernard Baldwin MBE, founder of the Nos Galan Road Races, Tunisia shooting hero Mathew James and celebrated Cynon Valley boxer Dai Dower have been granted the honour.
The Cory Band and Llantwit Fardre swimmer David Roberts CBE will both receive the award in 2017.
A council spokesman said: “Rhondda Cynon Taf has a proud record of recognising and honouring those who have given extraordinary service to the county borough and has a well-established tradition of conferring the Freedom of the Borough on worthy candidates. This accolade is highly prestigious and is intentionally relatively scarcely awarded to preserve its importance.”
Neil Blockley, resident of Ton Pentre and Trustee of Cory Band commented: “We are very proud as an organisation to receive the Freedom of the Borough on behalf of all current and past members of the Cory Band. Our proud Rhondda history dates back to 1884 when we were first formed as the Ton Temperance Band. Our last award from the local authority was the Rhondda Recognition Award which was presented by Harry Mortimer in 1974 at the Parc & Dare Theatre following the band’s first win at the National Championships of Great Britain.
“This recognition 43 years later is just as significant as that first major win. The current band has just completed an unprecedented ‘Grand Slam’ year and in the process notched up a decade as the number one ranked band in the World. Cory in the last three years has toured Australia and USA representing RCT and Wales, during these extended tours it has been fantastic to meet many Rhondda expats that came out to watch us perform and share many stories of their Rhondda heritage.
“Closer to home, and thanks to the support received by the Arts Council of Wales, Cory toured Wales in 2016 as part of an audience development project to reach out to new brass band audiences and share with them the amazing musical experience that Cory delivers.
“Everyone associated with Cory would like to thank RCT Council and all of the councillors for unanimously awarding us the Freedom of the Borough. We join a very select group to have received this and as we continue to reach even greater heights as an organisation we do so in the knowledge that our continued efforts are recognised and appreciated by the residents and councillors of RCT. We look forward to formally celebrating this award in the coming months and we hope that we can once again sell out the Parc & Dare Theatre with our committed local supporters to join us in this celebration.”
There will be a formal presentation of the award on Wednesday March 14 at 1pm at Aberdare Coliseum, at which a group from the band will perform.