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Christmas comes early for Stalham

Santa brings a new cornet and tuba to help one of the oldest bands in the East of England enjoy a musical Christmas.

Tim Thirst with the Besson Sovereign Eb Bass


Members of the Stalham Brass Band in North Norfolk might be justified in thinking that Christmas has come a little earlier this year.

For many prospective brass band players the cost of an instrument which ranges from over £1000 for a cornet to over £5000 for a Bass can be a daunting prospect for an individual to finance, or even to hire.

Stalham Brass Band's philosophy is to give its players the best opportunity by working hard to ensure that it has a full complement of instruments — over £40,000 worth — with which to welcome new players with.

It is possible,that that compliment was the best Christmas present of all for the bandMD Tim Thirst


As the oldest established brass band in the East of England it is a philosophy which started with the band's founder — Edward Cooke of Stalham Hall — over 130 years ago. Mr. Cooke paid for the first instrument set on the condition that the band paid the money back from any engagement fees.

Nearing its target to complete the new instrument set the band was surprised to receive a donation from one of its Corporate Friends — Shell UK.Ltd — to purchase a Besson Sovereign Cornet in recognition of the band's unequalled community work in North Norfolk.

The presentation was made to the band's director of music, Dr. Tim Thirst by Tracey Tuttle, Business & External Affairs, Shell UK.Ltd, appropriately at Stalham Hall, where the band started all those years ago.

Anonymous benefactor

A few days later another donation arrived, given anonymously this time by one of the individual Friends of Stalham Band, to enable the band to purchase a Besson Sovereign Eb Bass, one of the largest instruments in the band. The donor wished to emphasise, in a practical way how much the community appreciates the band's sterling work in music training initiatives for young people and its support for charities in the Stalham area.

The instruments will be put to good use as the band is always looking for new members. Not just players and not just musicians though.

"It is possible," Dr. Thirst told 4BR, "that that compliment was the best Christmas present of all for the band."

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John Maines

BA (Hons)
Presenter, compere and conductor