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I joined the band in 1947 at the age of ten. As my dad had
been in the band since 1923, I had no choice but went along
to practice on Saturday mornings for lessons with the band at
the cost of 6d (old money!). After about 12 months I
progressed to the Eb Bass, and have played this instrument ever since.
In 1956 I did my National Service and was lucky enough to join the Dorset Regimental Band. We went to Minder in Germany, and I still played Eb Bass so was lucky enough to be playing every day for eighteen months – very good practice!
I returned to Sidmouth Band in 1958, and have been with them
through thick and thin, just completing 50 seasons of summer
concerts at the Connaught Gardens. Over the years I have
made some very good friends and have enjoyed every minute
I was chairman for about 12 years and have been band
librarian for over 20 years now.
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I originate from Redruth, Cornwall, which is something
I am very proud of to this day. I started my banding life
some 36 years ago with a local village band – Carharrack
& St. Day – under the direction of Clifford Bolitho. The
first instrument I learned, like many, was the cornet, but
I rapidly moved on to the euphonium. Like many a band
in those days, contesting was an important part of band
life – Carharrack were in the upper levels of the 2nd section (in the days of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd 4th sections). It was very exciting as a new member to join the band on contest days as a supporter, going to sit behind the curtains on stage whilst the band played. Eventually I progressed from the junior band into the senior band (along with my brother). The first contest I went to was Paignton, playing the test piece ‘Simon Called Peter’ – a piece that always brings back memories whenever I hear it now. Within months the band went through turmoil brought on by the success of the band on the contest stage and the lack of commitment by some to move the band into the 1st section. This resulted in the resignation of Clifford Bolitho, who left and took several players with him. As a result a new band formed – Illogan Sparnon Silver. I was one of the players who followed, along with my brother and several others. Within months a full band was equipped with instruments, uniforms and music etc. At this time I decided that playing the euphonium was not for me, so (like an idiot) I decided to play BBb bass – an instrument I still play today. I continued playing for Illogan for some years, enjoying many a contest win until I was enticed to join Camborne. I only played for Camborne for a short period of time – mainly because of my job. In those days being absent for one or two practices would have meant someone else sitting in your seat. Rather than facing an embarrassing situation, I left. This move took me to Redruth for a while, but then back to Illogan.
In 1985 my job took me to Barnstaple, North Devon, and not knowing anyone in the surrounding area I looked for a band and joined Bideford Town – who were then a 2nd section band under the direction of Maurice Arnold. The band secretary turned out to be another Cornishman, Cyril Pascoe (originally from St. Keverne), and a great friendship was formed. I continued with Bideford for four years as a player, committee member and chairman. In 1989 I retired from the world of brass bands to play golf. In early 1995 I was in Barnstaple for a day trip (I had since moved back to Redruth for promotion within my job), and met a member of Bideford Town who informed me they had qualified for the 4th section national finals in London and were desperate for somebody to take charge of the young bass section....“Why look at me?” I thought. After many pleading phone calls, and a call from Cyril Pascoe, I decided to help. This entailed a round trip of 192 miles after work twice a week for practice. I hung up my mouthpiece once again until 1996, when due to a promotion, I moved to Lapford and started working in Exeter. I played with Bideford again for a couple of years before actually moving to Exeter and joining the Lympstone South West Telecoms Band under the direction of Charles Fleming. I stayed at Lympstone for 12 months, enjoying a great contest winning period – 10 contests and 10 wins, including the 4th section national finals. However, I left the band after an untimely clash of personalities and hung up my mouthpiece. I was enjoying my retirement until I had a phone call from Derek Roberts, bandmaster of Totnes Band, inviting me to come along for a blow. I did, realised what I had missed, and started playing again. I joined Sidmouth in 2006 at the start of the summer season, and my first contest was at the national finals in Harrogate. I look forward to the summer season as I find it so rewarding playing to a receptive audience in Connaught Gardens.
Outside of the bandroom I am married to Sarah (a cornet player), and have four children – Natalie, Harry, Daisy and Finley. I enjoy most sport, and am a diehard Chelsea fan. I also enjoy all forms of music, to which my vast CD collection is testimony.
Profile coming soon….
Profile coming soon….