It’s been 18 years since the film Brassed Off put the former mining village of Grimethorpe, South Yorkshire, on the map.

Tara Fitzgerald, Ewan McGregor and Pete Postlethwaite starred in the film based on the true story of a colliery band struggling to survive as its pit faced closure.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the 1984 UK miners’ strikes, which comes less than a year after the death of Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative Prime Minister who battled the National Union of Mineworkers in those symbolic clashes.

Sheffield-based Nigel Dixon, band manager for Grimethorpe Colliery Band, prefers to look forward than dwell on politics.

“We remember the strikes but these anniversaries, they don’t mean anything. We can’t go political. What we should be doing is focusing on the survival of band, because don’t forget every player in the band was employed in the pit.

“If they wanted a certain player then they were offered a job with a pit house. Then the pit went, so the funding went, but the name has survived.”

But how did the band feel when the woman who decided there was no future in UK mining died?

“Well, it wasn’t just mining. I’m from Sheffield and look what she did to the steel mills there. It was everything. That was done to break the power of the unions, which were too strong at that time. But then it swung completely the other way to an unhappy medium.”

Dixon believes cost was the main obstacle, despite the region having coal reserves.

“The fact is it was costing us too much to bring the coal out of the ground compared with Eastern Europe. It did destroy communities.”

In 1994, the European Union’s study of deprivation named Grimethorpe the poorest village in the country and among the poorest in Europe.

Former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott visited in 2010 to praise regeneration projects but Dixon says nothing has improved.

“Nothing has changed. There is no cash flying about. There has been industry coming in to the area. But you’ll find a lot of those jobs taken by outsiders. There is nothing for local kids. We’re trying to break the cycle of deprivation, which needs to be done by education.”

Dixon says the colliery band members, who are all part-time, have a social responsibility. Indeed, the group’s tagline is “to bring about social change through the music”.

“We don’t have a political bias at all. We are just straight the down middle. We’ll do what we do to try to improve things.”

So, despite the 28-piece band being financed solely by ticket sales, it has funded 80 children in the village to have brass lessons.

“They’ll not all become musicians but by going through it, it will give them skills which will help them in their studies and their outlook on life.

“At moment they are going round in ever-decreasing circles. It’s just young kids pushing prams about. We want to put them in a position where they can make their own decisions.”

Two of the current players were born in the village. Many others come from surrounding areas. Normally they have young players from the Royal Northern College Of Music. Playing with Grimethorpe is like playing for Manchester United, says Dixon.

“Grimethorpe is seen as the best concert band there is by the general public. Purists would argue against that because our repertoire has to appeal to everyone, musicians and non-musicians. The competitions are important, but how important? The general public couldn’t care less if you win awards. It doesn’t have bearing.”

By way of example, Dixon cites his first tour as manager when the band played to 40,000 people in Australia. “We’ve played Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, the Olympics opening ceremony – and you don’t get much bigger than that.”

But it is still the band’s show at the Royal Albert Hall in 1992, when they were crowned first in the National Brass Band Championship right before the village pit closed, which defines the band.

And now brass band music – that most English of styles – is fast becoming cool again.

Grimethorpe are booked up till 2015. A giant of British rock has shown an interest in working with the band and groups such as Hackney Colliery Band and Manchester’s Riot Jazz Brass Band are bringing in a younger audience. Labels such as Brighton’s Tru Thoughts are also releasing records by modern brass bands.

So it’s time the Government started supporting brass band music as it supports ballet and opera, says Dixon.

“It’s deep in the national psyche. It is music that is culturally English. You’ve got the Government throwing hundreds of thousands at ballet and opera and compared with the amount they give to brass bands, it is obscene.”

Is it snobbery?

“No idea. That’s for others to say.”

Perhaps the decision-makers should try taking in a brass band concert?

“Brass band music stirs the soul. You go and listen to a brass band and it can reduce grown men to tears.

“We had an eleven-year-old playing Orange Juice in front of 2,000 people at Sheffield City Hall last week and a friend of mine, the hardest of the hard, was reduced to tears.”