CROWDS gathered in Leek Market Place to listen to Britain’s only Swiss Alphorn player as part of a tourism firm’s promotional event.
Frances Jones of Reading had been invited to the town by Dave Felstead, director of Railtrail Tours, based in St Edward Street, as part of the company’s display of Swiss mountain holiday excursions and the launch of its 2014 brochure.
Ms Jones told the Post & Times: “The Alphorn was not originally meant as a musical instrument; it was made to herd up cows on the mountains as it can be heard up to six miles away.
“I have been playing it for six years and I am currently the only person in Britain to play it. I also go to Switzerland to play.
“I am a professional musician and when I visited Switzerland I fell in love with the mountains.
“I picked up the instrument and taught myself how to play it.” Shoppers were also treated to barrel organ music by Patrick Cook of Crich, Derbyshire.
More than 30 years ago a young Michael Palin travelled by train on his first ‘Great Railway Journeys of the World’ TV series from London to the Kyle of Lochalsh.
This fired the imagination of Railtrail Tours managing director and founder Mr Felstead, to do the same – and inspired him to launch the company, with a commitment that Railtrail tours should be much more than just a train journey and would include quality hotels, good food, exciting excursions and wonderful attractions in the company of a friendly and experienced tour manager.
Mr Felstead, who now employs 10 people in Leek, said he had decided to launch the 2014 brochure in Swiss style during Leek market day.
He said: “We advertise locally and nationally and our Swiss tours have doubled, so we are putting on extra holidays next year.
“I thought it would be great to launch our new brochure in our own town.
“I was inspired to launch Railtrail 34 years ago by an amazing rail journey through the Scottish Highlands and was later captivated by the sensational lakes and mountains of Switzerland.
“These are still the most popular destinations in our collection of quality escorted holidays by train, although our clients return again and again because of the extraordinary experiences and many Great Britain and Continental railway journeys that our different tours offer.
“Our new Railtrail brochure includes a wonderful variety of short breaks and holidays, also featuring the Hebrides, St Tropez, the Isle of Man, Wales, the Channel Isles and Germany’s Harz Mountains, and many more destinations."