Last Saturday, Friary Guildford Band represented London & Southern Counties to make their debut at the National Finals at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Undaunted by being drawn an unwelcome second in the order of play, and having to follow the world famous Brighouse & Rastrick Band, Friary played as well as they had hoped, and received warm applause from the audience. They were congratulated by presenter of BBC Radio 2's Listen to the Band, Frank Renton on a fine performance, who then interviewed Musical Director Chris King, and also some of the players for the programme. In the final adjudication, they were placed 17th out of the 20 bands, but to put that into context, 15 of the bands placed above them are currently ranked higher than Friary in the world rankings – 13 of them in the top 30 - and two of the three they beat were top 20 bands. And of course, there were many bands, notably Black Dyke, who failed to qualify for the finals. The adjudicators' comments included: 'Much to commend and some moments of brilliance..'; and 'A confident performance.' All in all, Friary acquitted themselves well, and made a full contribution to what was an enjoyable day for all concerned, with a great spirit of keen but friendly rivalry. Bands from Wales and the North of England as usual dominated the top 6 places, with a rare intrusion from the South West to provide some representation from down South. Band Chairman, Nigel Stevens, summed up the day: ‘As the saying goes, it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part that counts. We were satisfied with our performance, and the atmosphere was terrific. To play immediately after Brighouse & Rastrick really brought home what a great day it was for the Band. Whilst we would dearly have loved to have been placed higher, we were in elite banding company.’ ‘If it wasn't there already, Friary Guildford's name is now firmly on the national banding map, and we’re already looking forward to the Regional Championships in March in the hope that we can repeat the experience next year!’ he concluded.