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Death of Jack Withington

The death has been reported of Jack Withington, one of the most influential and popular figures in North West banding.

Withington
  Jack Withington with his beloved wife, Kathleen

The death has been announced of Jack Withington, one of the most influential and popular brass band musicians in the North West of England. He was 95 and passed away on 9th February.

Born in December 1926, he first made his name as an aspiring tenor horn player with the Lower Ince Temperance Band. He later moved to Pemberton Old, then, together with his brother Len, who had become a much sought after euphonium player, to Wingates Temperance Band.

Success

It was here that he made his name with a band that enjoyed considerable success before the Second World War, but soon after had entered a period of stagnation.

However, with the renewed vigour of new players fortunes began to change.

Jack Withington was integral to that, and alongside his brother Len, Frank Hughes and Harold Gregory, was part of the Wingates ensemble that won the prestigious Quartet Championship of Great Britain title in 1957, beating celebrated rivals from Fairey and Foden's into podium places. They had won the 'A Grade' title the year before.

Although Wingates Temperance Band did not claim the British Open title during Jack's tenure as a player, they claimed runner-up finishes in 1961 and 1968 as well as third in 1967.

Although the band up against the powerful works bands of CWS (Manchester), Fairey Engineering and Foden's at the Area contest, they qualified for the National Finals on a number of occasions.

National title

However, his period with the band as a player was crowned by the winning of the National Championship of Great Britain title in 1971. Jack played first horn, his sons John and Allan were on cornet and brother Len on euphonium.

In fact all five of Jack's children; John, Allan, Christine, Gillian and Gary went onto enjoy considerable musical success, whilst he gained even greater pride from seeing his grandson Logan and granddaughter Pia take up playing in brass bands with Pemberton and Manger Musikklag in Norway.

His ability to inspire as a teacher had become apparent as a player, and he also became increasingly aware that he could inspire with the baton too.

Conductor

From 1972 to 1983 he was the Musical Director of Trinity Girls Band — claiming an immediate contest victory together at Skelmersdale in 1972.

Although the partnership did not claim any national titles, it did enjoy success, whilst Jack also used his experience to fine effect with the likes of Skelmersdale, Orrell and Rivington & Adlington. He made his last conducting appearance in 1991.

His players, from family members to those he taught in bands, soon became hugely accomplished solo contest performers, winning a plethora of prizes. Many of them also went on to enjoy wonderfully satisfying careers in other bands — with his daughters becoming key members of a resurgent Foden's Band under Howard Snell.

He was a factory worker from Wigan with no formal musical education who could teach any musician, amateur or professional how to turn a musical phrase and communicate with an audienceAllan Withington

Remarkable legacy

His son Allan summed up his approach: "He was a factory worker from Wigan with no formal musical education who could teach any musician, amateur or professional how to turn a musical phrase and communicate with an audience.

He loved music and the joy it brought, was respectful but determined and laid the foundations for countless youngsters, including myself and the extended Withington family to enjoy a lifetime of music making. That is a remarkable legacy for a remarkable man."

He added: "Anyone that came across him would applaud his sense of musicianship and basically, his will to win, but also his love for what he enjoyed doing, his respect for others and his keen sense of enjoyment."

Funeral details

Jack Withington is survived by his wife Kathleen in a relationship that lasted over 77 years.

The funeral service will take place at St. Matthews Church, Highfield, Wigan
Wednesday, 2nd March at 1.45pm.

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