Always smiling: The 2013 4BR Special Award recipient John Berryman
The recipient of the 2013 4BR Special Award is one of the most popular and respected musicians in the brass band movement.
John Berryman’s achievements as a player, conductor, teacher and adjudicator stand him in the finest company of his peers.
A prodigious cornet player, he started his musical career in his native Cornwall, where he soon made a name for himself as a performer of rare artistic talent, especially during his tenure as principal cornet of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain on eight consecutive courses.
It was inevitable that he came to the attention of the talent spotting hawks of some of the finest bands in the country and soon joined the then Munn & Felton Band, becoming principal cornet in 1960.
It coincided with a period of unrivalled contest success, as the GUS Band under the baton of Stanley Boddington won the National Championships of Great Britain in 1960, 1964 and 1966.
He was also a member of the legendary GUS Quartet - one which won the National Quartet Championships of Great Britain on three occasions and was the featured soloist at the Gala Concert following the National Finals.
His conducting career started in 1969 with the Bodmin Band, enjoying immediate success before later enjoying a brief spell as resident conductor with Grimethorpe Colliery Band, winning the CISWO Mineworkers Championship and coming runner up at the Granada Band of the Year.
He was however more at home with a baton in the Midlands - enjoying productive periods of success with the William Davis Construction Group Band as well as Nassington Brass and Kibworth amongst others.
The musical heart however was always to be found beating at GUS - first returning ‘home’ in 1986 and leading the band to the a brace of Regional Championship successes. His second period in charge also led to a return to the British Open, two further Area titles and the Butlins Mineworkers Championship.
His contribution to the banding movement as an educator spans over 29 years as a tutor and inspirational leader of young players in the Northamptonshire area.
In 1987 he was awarded the Iles Medal of The Worshipful Company of Musicians of the City of London for his outstanding services to brass band music and in 2004 he was also presented with the All England Masters Dedicated Service Award.
Fittingly he made his final contest appearance with the Virtuosi GUS Band at the National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall in 2013, where the reception given to him at the conclusion his band’s performance spoke volumes for the appreciation, respect and affection he is held in by the whole of the brass band movement.
That will also be the case for many more years to come.