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Death of Stephen Thornton

4BR has been informed of the death of the former Hammonds Sauce principal cornet and James Shepherd Versatile Brass member, Stephen Thornton.


The death of Stephen Thornton, the former principal cornet player of the Hammonds Sauce Work’s Band and a past member of Black Dyke, Brighouse & Rastrick and James Shepherd Versatile Brass has been announced.


He died following a short illness, aged 60. He leaves a widow Diane and two sons.


Stephen Thornton started his musical career with the Elland Band in Yorkshire aged nine, before joining Brighouse & Rastrick, where he played next to his life long friend David Horsfield as part of the band that came runner up to CWS Manchester at the 1963 National Championships of Great Britain.

He had all the essential gifts that marked out the finest cornet playersDavid Horsfield

Principal cornet

He subsequently moved to Black Dyke in 1964 and in 1965 was runner up in the British Solo Championships to Brian Rankine, before making his name as principal cornet of the Hammonds Sauce Work’s Band under the direction of Geoffrey Whitham.

He held the post for seven years before re-joining his friend David Horsfield at the recently formed James Shepherd Versatile Brass.

Stephen also played for the Virtuosi Brass Band of Great Britain, on occassions as principal cornet and for Kings of Brass.

Australia Tour

There he enjoyed a decade of music making all over the world, including the group’s famous 1978 tour to Australia, before his increasing business career forced him to retire from active playing.

He returned with the group for the wonderful 30th anniversary concert in Brighouse in 2008.


Just before Christmas he was delighted to learn that his son Simon, a professional golfer, had won through the European Qualifying School and was to play in South Africa in the New Year on the European Tour.

Wonderful man

David Horsfield told 4BR: "Stephen was a wonderful player, a great friend and a lovely man. We became life long friends ever since we first met and played together at Brighouse. He was something of a child prodigy and played as a featured soloist at the Royal Albert Hall. He had all the essential gifts that marked out the finest cornet players."

David added: "Our paths crossed as players for many years before we finally met up again with Jim Shepherd at JSVB where we had some great times. He will be sorely missed."

Funeral details

The funeral will be held at Lower Wyke Moravian Church in Lower Wyke near Bradford on Wednesday 20th January at 12.00am.

A private internment will take place later with a reception open to all at Cleakheaton Golf Club.

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Jack Capstaff

Bmus (Hons)
Conductor | Composer