Once a fine trumpet and cornet/soprano cornet player, due to some maxillo-facial surgery back in 2006 I now sit comfortably on EEb or BBb Tuba – back where I started in 1969! My days of performing The Last Post at funerals, church services and for remembrance parades on Armistice Day are over, especially after the 2016 debacle at Cullompton (see photo right) I’m not sure they’ll ask me to play again anyway! Not my most clinical performance shall we say. I am also an accomplished percussionist and kit drummer and offer my services as a brass/concert band dep, and for orchestral pit work for musicals and variety shows. I have been fortunate to have played percussion or trumpet in many shows, particularly with Centre Stage with whom I have a long association, including Jesus Christ Superstar (still my all time favourite), Oliver, The Dreaming, Beauty & the Beast, Annie (my least favourite!), The Pirates of Penzance and The Wizard of Oz to name but a few. I have also played drums with the fantastic Big Noise Chorus under the direction of Colin Rea. Unusually, I also played tuba at Exeter Northcott Theatre in a recent production of ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’. Great fun!
Having relocated my entire existence to Somerset in 2017, I needed to find a good band I could join. Fortunately this wasn’t too difficult because my good friend Andy Stark is the Musical Director of Wellington Silver Band. Going there was rather like going back in time, as I had played with them briefly whilst stationed at Cullompton in the 1980’s. Playing either percussion of tuba with them, it was a real pleasure to be part of the band, and I also deputised for Andy out the front with the baton whilst he was obtaining an award for the best soloist with South West Comms Band at Bugle! Sadly it wasn’t to last, and I had begun to get frustrated at rehearsals not knowing whether I would be required to blow, play drums or conduct at short notice, and so decided I had to leave and seek a new banding home, which I have. Reading an article by chance about the woes of Yeovil Town Band having to vacate their premises and seemingly having little support from the town, they have recently reformed under the name of Glastonbury Brass, and rehearse on Tuesday and Sundays in Glastonbury. I made an enquiry, and as luck would have they had a vacancy on BBb bass, and so I joined. The band shone under the baton of it’s conductor Simon Jones, but sadly his commitment to Aldbourne Band had to take first place, and the band has recently appointed the inimitable Dan Shave as it’s MD.
TIVERTON TOWN BAND
Following their very respectable 3rd place at the SWBBA Brass Band Contest in November 2015, I was appointed as Musical Director of Tiverton Town Brass Band, although I played timpani under the direction of Andrew Harris that day. I enjoyed the best part of two years conducting this happy and very supportive band, all the members of which I count as life-long friends.
A spin-off from the Exeter Symphony Orchestra, this a is traditional brass quintet comprising members of the full orchestra which can also perform as a quartet or larger brass ensemble. Resonate Brass can perform at a variety of events, including Christmas carol services, outdoor fundraisers and many more. Add together a wealth of music to choose from, and a very high standard of performance from the members: we guarantee a good show!
EXETER SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
At a symphonic wind band day at St Peters School in Exeter taken by Marion Wood, I was asked if I would consider playing tuba with Exeter Symphony Orchestra. I accepted, and under the direction of the orchestra’s Musical Director Brian Northcott, I have now performed works as diverse as Vaughan-Williams Symphony No. 6 in E Minor and Ernest Moeran’s Symphony in G Minor, and popular works including Brahms Academic Festival Overture and Holst’s Second Suite for Military band in F. 2015 saw the orchestra playing the Neruda Trumpet Concerto, Dvorak Symphony No. 8, Elgar’s ‘Cockaigne’ (In London Town), and other works including Morricone’s Gabriel’s Oboe and Vaughan William’s The Lark Ascending. Here’s to 2016 and Elgar’s Symphony No. 1. A performance of the Dvorak Cello concerto with Raphael Wallfisch in 2017 was a definite highlight.
SIDMOUTH TOWN BAND
Joining Sidmouth Town Band for an all too brief spell after my departure from SW Comms Band in 2015, I played percussion and both BBb and EEb bass with the band at many events in Sidmouth, including their series of summer concerts at the Connaught Gardens band stand. Currently in the 2nd Section, the band has ambitious plans to purchase it’s own band room in the near future, and can justifiably call itself one of the highest placed bands in the South West. The band continues to thrive under the leadership of Adrian Harvey.
SOUTH WEST COMMS BAND
The SW Comms Band, formerly known as the Lympstone South West Telecoms Band, and the Lympstone Band before that, I originally joined the band aged 14 on 2nd horn in 1972. I have since enjoyed many years with this famous brass band, and have since played soprano cornet, B flat cornet, percussion and more recently BB flat bass with the band. This band is almost certainly my ‘home’ in banding, one to which I always seem to return.
It’s a shame that in the past ‘band politics’ or personalities have got in the way of the music making causing it to cease being enjoyable. However, I have nothing but admiration for the band and it’s committed players, and wish them well in the 1st Section – perhaps even Championship Section – under the direction of their new MD Chris Spreadbury.
CITY OF EXETER RAILWAY BAND
Originally guesting on soprano cornet with the City of Exeter Railway Band, now known as Exeter Railway Band, I had the honour to be appointed as the Musical Director of this band in 2004 and enjoyed over six years in the post. I still maintain regular contact with band members, especially with my good friend Harry Rossitter who was 94 years young in August 2016.
The band has enjoyed recent contesting success since 2016 under the baton of their new MD Graham Eaton, and I wish them every success.
I enjoyed three fabulous years playing my famous yellow Premier Resonator drum kit with Wired – an Exmouth based rock covers band, in the last year of which we performed 50 gigs! The band has been through several personnel changes, and sadly it appears to have folded quite recently.
DEVONPORT NAVAL BASE VOLUNTEER BAND (HMS DRAKE)
Originally the Drum Major of HMS Heron Volunteer Band at RNAS Yeovilton following my drum major’s course at the Royal Marines School of Music at HMS Nelson in Portsmouth in 1998, I transferred to HMS Drake with Charlie Fleming, and in 2000 won the award for best Royal Navy Drum Major, adding the best solo instrumentalist prize in 2003 with my rendition of ‘Demelza’ on soprano cornet. I loved my time with the Royal Navy bands and would welcome opportunities to perform as a Drum Major again in the future.
HMS HERON ROYAL NAVY VOLUNTEER BAND (RNAS YEOVILTON)
Having joined this band in 1998 at the behest of its then Volunteer Band Instructor BDCSGT Charlie Fleming RM, I underwent full training both at CTCRM Lympstone and at the Royal Marines School of Music, HMS Nelson to become a Drum Major. My first engagement with the band as it’s Drum Major was in my home town of Exmouth. No pressure there then!
BRITISH POLICE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Apart from spending 28 happy years as a policeman in the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, I was a founder member of the British Police Symphony Orchestra (formally the Police National Orchestra) in 1990 and played at massive venues all over the country on several national tours as a percussionist, and occasionally as a trumpet player. The orchestra is now recognised as one of the top amateur orchestras in Great Britain, and celebrated it’s 25th birthday in 2015. Here in 2017 I’m negotiating my return to this fine orchestra.
THE BAND OF THE DEVON AND DORSET REGIMENT
Whilst a serving police officer, I joined the Devon and Dorset Regiment TA Band in Exeter for a few years, enjoying a tour of Guernsey with them. I played trumpet/cornet and percussion, and was a regular feature on drums in the Dance Band. A hugely successful band of a very high standard, it is now known as the Salamanca Band and Bugles of the Rifles.
THE BAND OF THE DEVON AND CORNWALL CONSTABULARY
I am immensely proud of my many years service as a uniformed member of the Band of The Devon and Cornwall Constabulary in which I played cornet and percussion. I was also occasionally seen in the Corps of Drums, and frequently in the Fanfare Team. In existence since 1976 but now sadly defunct since being disbanded due to financial constraints in 2004, the band had an enviable reputation with the people of Devon and Cornwall who always gave the band huge support, as well as audiences further afield – notably in Jersey where the band was equally as popular.
A full marching and concert brass band complete with Corps of Drums, the band shone under the Musical Direction of Keith Whittall RM, who also directed Exmouth Town Concert Band. Keith sadly passed away in 2008 and is sorely missed. Keith was perhaps one of the biggest influences on my musical life.
14-20’S MUSIC & DRAMA SOCIETY (CENTRE STAGE)
I joined what is now Centre Stage (Exmouth) aged 13 in 1972 – just missing out on their first ever show ‘Hi Hopes’. I performed on stage in ‘A Country Girl’, ‘Chu Chin Chow’, ‘Calamity Jane’, ‘Viva Mexico’ (lead role – Ramon) and also in ‘Kiss Me Kate’. I love this society, membership of which brought me out of my shell in my teens and exposing me to a world where my confidence finally abounded. I have remained faithful to Centre Stage ever since, regularly performing in the orchestra pit for them to this day.