2007 Spring Festival - Grand Shield runners and riders


We cast our eye over the 19 bands on show this Saturday in Blackpool. Plenty of talented players, determined MDs and lots and lots of pure unbridled ambition to get to Birmingham.

Test Piece: The Night to Sing – Bramwell Tovey
Adjudicators: Not known at present

Alliance Brass
Paul Cosh
4BR Ranking:  115

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Simon Cox
Soprano Cornet: Owain Harries
Flugel: Ed Pascal
Solo Horn: Ben Benson
Solo Euphonium: Don Logie
Solo Trombone: Richard Watkin
Tuba: Mike Levis
Baritone: Diana Herak

Blackpool Form:
2006: 4th Senior Cup (J. Clark) (prom)
2005: Winners of Senior Trophy (J. Clark) (prom)

Form Guide:
A little bit hard to tell.  After the problems that they encountered in trying to get a band together to play at the Regional Championships in Stevenage lets hope they make it to the stage here. If they do then they could well be a band to watch out for as they have certainly enjoyed their trips North in the past two years.

Plenty of quality players in the ranks and an experienced and intelligent MD at the helm. A dark horse, but one worth keeping an eye out for.    

AshtonAshton under Lyne
Philip Chalk
4BR Ranking: 58

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Claire Chalk
Principal Euphonium: Nigel Lawless
Soprano Cornet: Phil Ramsden
Solo Trombone: Dave Priestley
Solo horn: Helen Ramsden
Flugel horn: Neil Hewson
Solo Baritone: Danny Catlow
Eb Bass: John Clough

Blackpool Form:
2006: 19th British Open (P. Chalk) (rel)
2005: 17th (Philip Chalk) (9)

Form Guide:
After their two years battling it out at the British Open, Ashton return to the Grand Shield, all the better for the experience for sure, but also determined to improve on what has been a slightly disappointing start to 2007.

They came a lowly 6th at the Regionals in the First Section, but were an encouraging runners up at the Tameside Open. Phil Chalk is a talented MD but he will know they will have to significantly up their game if they are to return to Birmingham at the first attempt.  

Jason Katsikaris
4BR Ranking: 27

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Jeff Hutcherson
Soprano Cornet: Meirion Davies
Flugel: Alexandria James
Solo Horn: Bruce Myers
Solo Euphonium: Mark Hutcherson
Solo Trombone: Nick Jones
Tuba: Kate James
Baritone: Chris Straker

Blackpool Form:
2006: 2nd Senior Cup (prom)
2005: 5th (T. Wyss)
2004: 5th (D. Hirst)
2003: 7th (D. Stowell)
2002: 9th (D. Stowell)
2001: 18th Grand Shield (rel) (G. Pritchard)
2000: 4th Grand Shield (G. Pritchard)
1999: DNC
1998: N/K Grand Shield (A. Morrison)
1997: 11th Grand Shield (A. Morrison)
1996: 11th Grand Shield (S. Sykes)
1995: 5th Grand Shield (S. Sykes)
1994: DNC
1993: 6th Grand Shield (M. White)

Form Guide:
Could BTM be ready to claim their first appearance at the British Open? If recent form is a good guide then they will be a band to watch out for on the weekend and they recently had a very encouraging run out on the test piece in winning the Ebbw Vale Welsh League Contest.

Confidence seems to be high after a fine start to 2007 at Yeovil, Porthcawl and the Welsh Regionals too. The partnership with Jason Katsikaris seems to be working well, so can they book themselves a place at Symphony Hall to go with the Royal Albert Hall in October?

Mike Fowles
4BR Ranking: 50

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Peter Shaw
Solo Euphonium: Jamie Meredith
Solo Horn: Helen Varley
Soprano: Renate Saele
Flugel: Phil Sharples
Solo Trombone: Kevin Gibbs
Tuba: Ed Leech
Baritone: Paul Greenwood

Blackpool Form:
2006: 15th (M. Fowles)
2005: 8th (M. Fowles)
2004: 3rd Senior Cup (prom) (M. Fowles)
2003: 15th Grand Shield (rel) (M. Fowles)
2002: 11th (M. Fowles)
2001: 12th (M. Fowles)
2000: 23rd British Open (rel) (P. Bailey)
1999: 16th British Open (P. Bailey)
1998: 2nd (prom) 9th British Open (G. O'Connor)
1997: 8th (A. Lawton)
1996: DNC
1995: 20th (J. Maines)
1994: 4th (J. Maines)
1993: 16th (J. Maines)

Form Guide:
Another band that should fancy their chances of doing well here, especially if they can repeat the form that saw them come 4th at the Regionals. They also won Brass at the Guild Hall too, so confidence must be high and we don't think it's misplaced.

They didn't hit top form here last year, but the long term association with Michael Fowles is now really paying dividends and with a stable of quality soloists to call on they could be in with a real shout come the results. 

Burry PortBurry Port Town
Michael Thorne
4BR Ranking: 33

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: David James
Solo Euphonium: Ceri John
Solo Horn: Keith Curtis
Soprano: Jayne Thomas
Flugel: Jane Stredwick
Solo Trombone: Alex Powles
Tuba: Gethin Rees
Baritone: Daren John

Blackpool Form:
2006: 9th (M. Thorne)
2005: Winners Senior Cup (prom) (M. Thorne)
2004: 11th (D. Evans)
2003: 14th Grand Shield (rel) (D. Evans)
2002: 3rd Senior Cup (prom) (D. Evans)

Before 2002 the band did not compete in these contests

Form Guide:
A band that has come a very long way in a short space of time, Burry Port were perhaps a touch unlucky not to have qualified for London when they came 4th at Swansea at the Welsh Regionals. They weren't as good though at Porthcawl though and didn't take part in the recent Welsh League contest at Ebbw Vale, so they should be well prepared.

On their day they have all the ingredients to do well on this piece with fine young soloists and a talented MD at the helm. They showed last year that they have the ability to do well against this standard of opposition, but can they push even higher and claim a place at the British Open?

Richard Evans
4BR Ranking: 24

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: John White
Solo Euphonium: Jeff Bell
Solo Horn: Steve Hardy
Soprano: Steven Symonds
Flugel: Melissa Madison
Solo Trombone: Malcolm Gill
Tuba: Anthony Taylor
Baritone: Caroline Bell

Blackpool Form:
2006: 13th (D. Roberts)
2005: 14th (I. McElligott)
2004: 10th (I. McElligott)
2003: 4th (G. O'Connor)
2002: 6th (G. O'Connor)
2001: 10th (I. Robinson)
2000: DNC
1999: 14th (I. Robinson)
1998: DNC
1997: 19th (I. Robinson)
1996: 10th (I. Robinson)
1995: DNC
1994: DNC
1993: DNC

Form Guide:
A band that can blow hot or cold so to speak, and they will certainly be looking to put their 2007 contesting form back on track after coming a disappointing 4th at the North of England Regionals in Darlington.

That was a real shock as they ended 2006 in fine style, but the return of Richard Evans may well be the shot in the arm they need to repeat the form of London 2006 when they just missed out on a top ten finish. The players and the MD have the experience and the talent, but their record here isn't too great in the past three years. Time for a change then.     

Russell Gray
4BR Ranking: 9

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Andy Lord
Principal Euphonium: Brendan Wheeler
Soprano Cornet: Geoff Hawley
Solo Trombone: Richard Walker
Solo horn: Leslie Howie
Flugel horn: Niki Longdon
Tuba: Chris Doran
Baritone: Katrina Marzella

Blackpool Form:
2006: 4th (R. Gray)
2005: 15th (F. Renton)
2004: 13th (G. Cutt)
2003: 14th in British Open (rel) (P. Bassano)
2002: 11th (G. Cutt)
2001: 9th (B. Grant)
2000: 10th (H. Snell)
1999: 8th (R. Evans)
1998: 6th (R. Evans)
1997: 8th (R. Evans)
1996: 3rd (R. Evans)
1995: 19th (R. Evans)
1994: Winners (R. Evans)
1993: 5th (R. Evans)

Form Guide:
The pre contest favourites will come to the contest without the distraction of the European that seemed to drain their stamina reserves last year and condemned them to miss out on a place at the British Open by coming 4th. 

All the talent in the ranks and an MD with an enviable record of contest achievement, they should fancy their chances if they get a good draw and the contesting Gods smile on them. A repeat of the form they showed at the Regionals though cannot be repeated as even though they did qualify for London they didn't really hit top form on the day. Any repeat here and they could miss out for another year.   

Mount CharlesMount Charles
Garry Cutt
4BR Ranking: 23

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Ian Thomas
Solo Euphonium: Neil Pascoe
Solo Horn: Sarah Whitehead
Soprano: Jon Small
Flugel: Yasmin Stevens
Solo Trombone: Martin Sanders
Tuba: Shaun Woodward
Baritone: Terry Sleeman

Blackpool Form:
2006: 7th (N. Weeks)
2005: 6th (N. Childs)
2004: 7th (B. Hurdley)
2003: 3rd (B. Hurdley)
2002: 9th (B. Hurdley)
2001: 14th (B. Hurdley)
2000: 8th (R. Evans)

The band didn't compete at the contest before 2000.

Form Guide:
Close but no cigar seems to be the curse of Mount Charles at this contest over the last few years. Some impressive names have tried to direct them to Symphony Hall without quite managing it in recent times, and this year it falls to Garry Cutt to try and get them there.

If he can't do it then you wonder who can, but of they repeat the form they showed at the Regionals where they booked their place at London with a forthright and confidence packed performance they should be in the mix once more. Just a touch of luck too may help.

NewsteadNewstead Welfare
Duncan Beckley
4BR Ranking:  54

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Kirk Turner
Soprano Cornet: Philip White
Flugel: Michael Corden
Solo horn: Sandra Kowalenco
Solo Trombone: Colin Davenport
Solo Euphonium: Lyndon Cooper
Tuba: Paul Whyley
Baritone: Roger Astle

Blackpool Form:
2006: Winners Senior Cup (D. Beckley) (prom)
2005: 8th (D. Beckley)
2004: 20th Grand Shield (D. Beckley) (rel)
2003: 5th Senior Cup (prom) (D. Beckley)
2002: 2nd Senior Trophy (prom) (D. Beckley)

Didn't compete at the contests before 2002.

Form Guide:
A band on the up and their win here in the Senior Cup last year has propelled them back towards the Grand Shield once more. The long term association with Duncan Beckley is now bearing musical fruit although they were a touch disappointing to come 6th at the Regionals in Burton upon Trent.

Talented players around the stands and an MD who knows what it takes to win contests at just about every level in the banding world. It may be asking a lot of them to make it to Birmingham this year but you never know do you now?

Pennine Brass
Ian Porthouse
4BR Ranking: 41

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: JJ Lees
Soprano Cornet: Mark Wears
Flugel: Craig Whitehead
Solo Horn: Laura Lea
Solo Euphonium: Mike Fox
Solo Trombone: Steven Williams
Tuba: Katherine Wohlman
Baritone: Cath Hill

Blackpool Form:
2006: 5th (I. Porthouse)
2005: 5th (I. Porthouse)
2004: 2nd Senior Cup (prom) (I. Porthouse)
2003: Winners Senior Trophy (prom) (I. Porthouse)
2002: 12th (I. Porthouse)

The band didn't compete before 2002.

Form Guide:
A dark horse who are not a dark horse if you know what we mean. Even though Pennine are a First Section band (already qualified for Harrogate and the Lower Section finals), they have already shown over the past 12 months or so that they can more than hold their own against this level of competition.

The Pontins Champion is a solid and well prepared outfit with a talented MD and plenty of quality players. In the past two years they have just missed out, so can they make it third time lucky? Don't be surprised if they do just that.

Philip Harper
4BR Ranking: 20

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Chris Howley
Solo Euphonium: Andy Hicks
Solo Horn: Vicki Reynolds
Soprano: Spencer O'Leary
Flugel: Danny Winder
Solo Trombone: Nathan Jenkins
Tuba: Tom Devoran
Baritone: Carolyn Chandler

Blackpool Form:
2006: 6th (P. Harper)
2005: 3rd (P. Harper)
2004: 9th (P. Harper)
2003: 7th (P. Harper)
2002: 3rd (P. Harper)
2001: 21st British Open (rel)
2000: 19th British Open (R. Evans)
1999: 19th British Open (B. Hurdley)
1998: Winners (prom); 14th British Open (B. Hurdley)
1997: 10th (B. Hurdley)
1996: 9th (P. Bailey)
1995: DNC
1994: 17th (D. Williams)
1993: DNC

Form Guide:
The other real form horse in the field, and one that on paper should have more than enough quality about them to make it to Symphony Hall with plenty to spare.  They have already shown in 2007 that they are full of confidence and playing to the top of their form with wins at Yeovil and Torquay to their name.

They haven't had much luck here over the past few years, but the encouraging news is surely that they have already got their one ‘unlucky' result of the year out of the way at Skegness where they came 4th at the Mineworlers. If it all goes to plan they should be in the mix for sure – fingers crossed.  

Melvin White
4BR Ranking: 40

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Ralph Brill
Soprano Cornet: Jonathan Hammond
Flugel: Tim Hammond
Solo Horn: Iselin Lande
Solo Euphonium: Lisa James
Trombone: Su Cordiner
Tuba: Tim Davey
Baritone: Andrew Richards

Blackpool Form:
2006: 12th (M. White)
2005: 16th (M. White)
2004: 16th (M. White)
2003: 4th in Senior Cup (prom) (M. White)
2002: 5th Senior Trophy (prom) (M. White)
2001: DNC
2000: DNC
1999: DNC
1998: DNC
1997: DNC
1996: DNC
1995: 18th Grand Shield (J. Clark)
1994: 7th Grand Shield (J. Clark)
1993: 15th Grand Shield (J. Clark)

Form Guide:
After a couple of years when they seemed to have stalled with their progress, Redbridge and Melvin White have found their way back on course in recent months. Although they came 8th at Skegness there were encouraging signs that things were starting to knit back together well, and that was confirmed when they showed a clean pair of heels at Stevenage to win the London & Southern Counties regional title.

On their day they can mix it with the best but they haven't got the greatest of records here in the past few years. Time for that to change then and the tide may have turned in their favour if they can maintain and improve on Stevenage. 

SellersSellers International
Philip McCann
4BR Ranking: 14

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Stephanie Barratt
Principal Euphonium: Mark Bousie
Soprano Cornet: Gary Bates
Solo Trombone: Rebecca Lundberg
Solo horn: Leah Williams
Flugel horn: Sian Carradus
Baritone: Steve March
Eb Bass: Ben Thomson

Blackpool Form:
2006: 15th British Open (P. McCann) (rel)
2005: 14th (P. McCann) (7)
2004: 5th (P. McCann) (13)
2003: DNC
2002: DNC
2001: DNC
2000: DNC
1999: 17th (P. Parkes) (21) (rel)
1998: 18th (A. Morrison) (14)
1997: 12th (A. Morrison) (9)
1996: 11th (A. Morrison) (2)

Form Guide:
A band in need of a good dose of old fashioned contesting luck it seems. Sellers were very unlucky to lose their place at the British Open after coming a solid if unspectacular 15th at Birmingham. The drop though the trap door will have hurt, but as they showed previously they have the class about them to make sure it is only a short visit.

Always interesting to listen to and enjoy, luck wasn't with them in Bradford where they came 9th. If they can really hit their musical bootstraps here though then they should be one of the short priced favourites to make it into the winner's enclosure.    

SovereignSovereign Brass
: Trevor Jones
4BR Ranking: 61

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Claire Hutchinson
Soprano: Mark Tarry
Euphonium: Mark Hadlington
Flugal: Sarah Matthews
Solo Horn: Robert Allen
Trombone: Mike Wallbridge
Tuba: Phil Green
Baritone: Steve Parsons

Blackpool Form:
2006: 14th (S. Roberts)
2005: 3rd Senior Cup (prom) (T. Jones)
2004: 15th (T Jones)
2003: 11th (W. Ruston)
2002: 14th (J. Hinckley)
2001: 10th (D. Beckley)
2000: DNC
1999: 13th Grand Shield (rel) (S. Roberts)
1998: DNC
1997: 15th Grand Shield (D. Maplestone)
1996: 7th Grand Shield (D. Maplestone)
1995: 7th Grand Shield (D. Maplestone)
1994: 6th Grand Shield (D. Maplestone)
1993: 12th Grand Shield (D. Maplestone)

Form Guide:
Sovereign come to the Grand shield after just missing out on a return trip to the National Finals in London. They came 3rd at Burton upon Trent and could have counted themselves a tad unlucky (although they were off form at Yeovil where they came 7th), but they have shown over the past couple of years that they are a band very much on the up. 

Lots of experience in the ranks too should set them up nicely, although they will have to up their game from last year's 14th place if they are to push for a place at the Open come September. 

David Maplestone
4BR Ranking: 29

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Paul White
Solo Horn: Tracey White
Solo Euphonium: Mark Glover
Solo Trombone: N/K
Soprano Cornet: Andy Jennings
Flugel: Juia Telling
Tuba: Eric Handford
Baritone: Michelle Swift

Blackpool Form:
2006: 3rd (S. Bastable)
2005: 2nd Senior Cup (prom) (S. Bastable)
2004: Winners Senior Trophy (prom) (D. Maplestone)
2003: 14th Senior Cup (rel) (D. Maplestone)
2002: 3rd Senior Trophy (prom) (D. Maplestone)
2001: 17th Senior Trophy (A. Culshaw)
2000: DNC
1999: 18th Grand Shield (A. Culshaw)
1998: 11th (A. Culshaw)
1997: 7th (A. Culshaw)

Form Guide:
Staffordshire has been busy of late and were on excellent form at the Europeans where they performed with real credit in accompanying the bands in the European Soloists Final.

The reigning Midlands Area Champions are on something of a roll at present and they were good value for that victory at Burton upon Trent too. The quality is certainly there to be heard and so too the confidence. Lat year they missed out on the short trip to Birmingham by the skin of their teeth and we are sure they won't want that to happen again. Can they do it this time though?  

TongwynlaisTongwynlais Temperance
Gareth Pritchard
4BR Ranking: 47

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Duncan Broadley
Soprano: Gareth Davies
Flugel: Eve Nixon
Solo Horn: Alun James
Solo Euphonium: Martyn Patterson
Solo Trombone: Robin Hacket
Tuba: Nick Wills
Baritone: Gareth Nixon

Blackpool Form:
2006: 3rd Senior Cup (G. Pritchard) (prom)
2005: 2nd Senior Trophy (prom) (G. Pritchard)
2004: 13th (B. James)

Form Guide:
If Tongwynlais can repeat the excellent form they showed at Skegness and the Mineworker's earlier in the year when they came 3rd then they will surely be a band to look out for come the results. If however they show the error strewn form that blighted their chances at Swansea in the Welsh Regional Championship and at Porthcawl, then they won't trouble the men in the box.

They didn't appear at the recent Ebbw Vale contest to give the set work an early run out, so perhaps they have concentrated all their efforts into preparing things for the big day. If they get it right though then look out as they quite like it here and three promotions in three years to the Open would be some achievement.  

Allan Ramsay
4BR Ranking: 21

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Rhian Linney
Principal Euphonium: Darren Morris
Soprano Cornet: Steve Ruck
Solo Trombone: Steve Turton
Solo horn: Michael Franey
Flugel horn: Louise Edgar
Tuba: Mark Carter
Baritone: Kate Rowlands

Blackpool Form:
2006: 11th (G. Cutt)
2005: 18th British Open (T. Wyss) (rel)
2004: 19th (Russell Gray) (15)
2003: 9th (Russell Gray) (18)
2002: 8th (Steve Bastable) (18)
2001: 13th (Steve Bastable) (17)
2000: 8th (Steve Bastable) (12)
1999: 7th (James Scott) (20)
1998: 7th (James Scott) (11)
1997: 6th (James Scott) (3)
1996: 2nd (Nicholas Childs) (9)
1995: 13th (Nicholas Childs) (2)
1994: 16th (Nicholas Childs) (18)
1993: DNC

Form Guide:
A bit like Tongwynlais but in reverse. If they show the form of Swansea then they could well be in the mix come the results, but if they repeat the form of Skegness and more recently Ebbw Vale where they were really off colour and sounded as under cooked as a sushi bar ready meal then they will have to make do with another year at this contest – or worse.

Allan Ramsay will surely have worked them hard in preparation, but they have fallen a long way from being runners up at the Open a decade or so ago – and they don't want to fall any further.  

GUSVirtuosi GUS
Rob Wiffen
4BR Ranking: 35

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: John Hudson
Principal Euphonium: Robert Woods
Soprano Cornet: Rebecca Crawshaw
Solo Trombone: Chris Jeans
Solo horn: Simon Smith
Flugel horn: Cliff Pask
Tuba: Graham Patterson
Baritone: Shawn Pagington

Blackpool Form:
2006: 10th (D. Stowell)
2005: 4th (D. Stowell)
2004: 5th (D. Stowell)
2003: 15th in British Open (rel) (1) (P. Parkes)
2002: 17th (B. Grant) (15)
2001: 10th (F. Renton) (1)
2000: 7th (M. White) (6)
1999: 10th (M. White) (23)
1998: 21st (M. White) (1)
1997: 17th (J. Berryman) (12)
1996: 16th (J. Berryman) (5)
1995: 4th (J. Berryman) (8)
1994: 15th (J. Berryman) (12)
1993: 8th (J. Berryman) (N/K)

Form Guide:
A band with a great heritage, but hopefully a fine future if they can just get themselves out of this contest and back to the British Open for the first time since 2003.

2007 started so well too with 2nd place at the Mineworkers Championship, but a poor 5th place at Burton upon Trent saw major changes in musical direction and the departure of MD David Stowell. Nice to see Rob Wiffen back, and this is a band with plenty of quality in the ranks. Can the new partnership strike gold from the word go though?

iMPSYorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel
: Ray Farr
4BR Ranking: 39

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Mark Walters
Principal Euphonium: Adrian Nurney
Soprano Cornet: Richard Hanson
Solo Trombone: Richard Taylor
Solo horn: Laura Brown
Flugel horn: Ginette Baker
Baritone: William Hodgson
Eb Bass: Ron Rees -Davies

Blackpool Form:
2006: 18th British Open (C. Houlding) (rel)
2005: DNC
2004: 17th (John Hinckley) (3)
2003: 10th (David Evans) (7)
2002: 7th (David Evans) (14)
2001: 14th (David Evans) (16)
2000: 18th (Thomas Wyss) (2)
1999: 15th (Thomas Wyss) (1)
1998: DNC
1997: DNC
1996: 22nd (Alan Exley) (4) (rel)
Form Guide:
Another band who will be hoping that their stay in the Grand Shield will be a short one after falling through the trap door from the British Open.

2007 has started pretty well at Skegness where they came a very solid 5th, and that form was continued in Bradford under the baton of Ray Farr when they came an encouraging 6th.  More of that and they could well be back from whence they came, although they are up against a strong field of rivals. Not to be discounted by any means and with plenty of experienced talent in the ranks they could well be up and around the prizes if they really play to form.


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