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City of Bristol honour stalwart

60 years after he started Derek Horsfall becomes the toast of west country banding. Well done indeed.


City of Bristol Brass Band tuba player Derek Horsfall has been honoured for his remarkable 60-year contribution to the brass band world.

The dyed-in-the-wool bandsman, who started playing at the age of nine, was the toast of the brass band scene on Saturday during a sell-out Christmas concert by his current "outfit", the City of Bristol Brass Band, at Thornbury's Armstrong Hall.

I had a lot of support from my mum and dad and I'll always be grateful to them for that. Since those days I've lost count of the number of competitions I've played in — from the fourth division right up to national championships and the British OpenDerek

Gloucestershire Brass Band Association secretary Bill Poulton presented Derek with a framed certificate marking his service to the movement and making him a lifelong honorary member of the association.

Important part of my life

Brass bands have been a very important part of my life and always will be," said Derek, who was born in Yorkshire's West Riding an area celebrated or its brass band traditions. He joined his first band Elland Silver in 1950, playing E flat bass — an instrument to which he has stayed faithful right through his musical career.

"I remember the day I first went along to a youth band session and someone thrust an instrument at me and told me to have a go," he said. "I had a lot of support from my mum and dad and I'll always be grateful to them for that. Since those days I've lost count of the number of competitions I've played in — from the fourth division right up to national championships and the British Open."

Brighouse, Stanshawe and Virtuosi Bands

After ten years with the Elland (only interrupted by National Service with the Royal Corps of Signals) he moved to the Lindley Band and then, in 1963, to the legendary Brighouse and Rastrick, a byword for brass band quality. He spent eight happy and successful years with them, winning two national and two world championships, recording for the BBC and on disc and undertaking many tours. He moved to the Bristol area in 1971, helping to form the Stanshawe Band which was to achieve enormous success locally, nationally and overseas.

Derek was also a member of the Virtuosi Band of Great Britain, consisting of some of the cream of UK players. It, too, achieved international success, earning a reputation for supreme technical quality. The 1980s saw Derek joining the Flowers Band in Cheltenham, helping it achieve great acclaim.

"I was asked to join a band formed of players from the good old days who became known as Kings of Brass," said Derek. "Thirty names were drawn from all parts of the country Some of them had given up playing but they got themselves back into condition and our concerts were sell-outs."

Mainstay at Thornbury

Derek was a mainstay of Thornbury Band — sadly now no more — and is currently playing with City of Bristol where his experience and expertise are fully recognised.

"I had an operation which might have put an end to it but the doctors said the best thing I could do was keep on blowing for as long as I can," said Derek. "I've had tremendous support from my wife Sue and have made some brilliant friends over the years.

"The presentation came out of the blue. I didn't need thanking for any of it but it was a wonderful gesture and I was very moved." Said Bill Poulton: "Few people have done more for the brass band movement than Derek. His lovely sound and innate sense of balance have made him a section player of the highest order. He just loves to play — what more can anyone say?"


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Dave Collins

BA (Hons) (Dunelm) I, FSCO
Composer and Arranger