Grimethorpe Colliery Band has announced significant new signings following the recent departures of horn player Jonathan Bates and euphonium star Michael Dodds.
Helen Varley will be joining the band on solo horn from Black Dyke when her commitments to the Queensbury band are completed in June, whilst Andy Kennedy comes in on baritone from Hatfield Colliery Band.
Helen told 4BR: "It was a tough decision to leave Black Dyke, but the opportunity to join the Grimethorpe on solo horn was just too good to turn down. I'm delighted to be joining this world-class group of musicians and I'm looking forward to new challenges and musical adventures.
I'm very sad to be leaving Black Dyke after four fantastic years, and I leave with wonderful memories. I would like to express warm thanks to the band and Prof Nicholas Childs, and I wish my friends all the best for the future."
Meanwhile, Andy, who has also played solo euphonium and solo baritone told 4BR. "My father Mick joined Grimethorpe on the back row when I was 6 and played with the band for 16 years, so being asked to be part of this band is something I dreamed of.
I used to sit at the front of rehearsals in awe of the players around the stand, so to be one of them now is an honour. I cannot wait to pull on the famous pink shirt at the British Open!"
We would like to welcome both Helen and Andy to the band — both players of outstanding talent who will strengthen our ranksGrimethorpe Colliery Band
Cornet to flugel
In an internal move, the departure of flugel player Laura Hirst has meant that Jamie Smith moves from solo cogent to take on the role.
A Grimethorpe spokesperson told 4BR: "We would like to welcome both Helen and Andy to the band — both players of outstanding talent who will strengthen our ranks.
We would like to thank Laura for her time with us and wish her every success in the future. Jamie, who studies at the Royal Northern College of Music and also stars in the A4 Brass Quartet, is one of the finest players of his generation with a great future ahead of him."