The Flowers Band has announced that Stephen Sykes has been appointed as their new principal trombone and will perform with them at the British Open at Symphony Hall this weekend.
His appearance will also mark the next positive step in his fight against lymphoma — one that has seen him battle against the illness over many months before being able to return to banding.
He told 4BR: "I've been incredibly privileged to have been part of two winning performances at the British Open in the past, and to have received the 'Best Instrumentalist' award in 2010, so to make a return at a contest that has special memories for me is a great thrill."
Stephen will join his brother Carlton in the Flowers ranks for what is sure to be a wonderful contest day for the whole family.
"That's been a great added bonus," Stephen said. "He's a great player, and also my chauffeur to and from rehearsals, which helps make it all possible. All the support from people from around the world has urged me on for this — so heartfelt thanks go to everyone as well."
Stephen's return has also given the whole of Flowers Band a huge boost ahead of their 'Fraternity' challenge according to principal conductor David Childs.
"We're all delighted to see him back doing what he does best," David said. "I've been a fan of his playing for a long time and it's been great to hear him performing once more. This is another hugely positive step for him and his family."
I've been incredibly privileged to have been part of two winning performances at the British Open in the past, so to make a return at a contest that has special memories for me is a great thrillStephen Sykes
Icing on the cake
That was certainly confirmed by his mother Jo, who added: "It's been absolutely wonderful seeing Stephen get stronger over the last few months, and for him to be able to go to band rehearsal with Carl and play at this standard has been the icing on the cake."
Flowers Band Manager, John Gillam, added: "Everyone associated with Flowers Band has the greatest admiration for the Sykes family and it's a pleasure to welcome Stephen to the band.
We'd also like to thank Andrew Norman for the support he's given to him from both the solo and second trombone seat in recent months, and wish him well for the future."