Funeral of James Abbott

The funeral details of James Abbott MBE have been announced.

James Abbott

Peter Fraser of the Scottish Brass Band Association has informed 4BR that the funeral of James Abbott MBE will take place at Mortonhall Crematorium in Edinburgh on Thursday 17th January at 12 noon.

All friends are welcome to attend.


James Abbott MBE
1922 — 2008

It was with sadness we heard on the 8th January of the passing of James Abbott MBE at the age of 85. Jim, an RAF ex-serviceman, was for the past few months being cared for by friends at Erskine House in Edinburgh.


James served the brass band movement for around 60 years. He joined the Executive of the Scottish Brass Band Association in 1949, and served as Secretary 13 years, President for 38 years.

James Abbott was born in the mining town of Blackburn, West Lothian, the sixth child in a family of nine children. Not long after he was born, his mining father was offered a mining post in Bowhill, Fife and the family uprooted. James lived there with his family until once again his father took new employment in Loanhead and at the age of eight he settled in the town where he was to remain for the rest of his life.


As a schoolboy James’s passion for music was born, thanks to the great influence of his brother William, who at ten years his senior, would travel far and wide to listen to brass music. William passed on his love of brass music to James, who at the age of eleven picked up his first instrument, the cornet, and joined Loanhead Burgh band and a few years later he played with Dalkeith Burgh band. At this young age, his destiny was set.

James went on to study Music Harmony and Musicology at Edinburgh University and Foreign Correspondence with French and Spanish at Basil Patterson's College, Edinburgh.

In 1939, not long after finding employment with Mactaggart and Scott of Loanhead, James joined the RAF at the age of seventeen to fight for King and Country; he became a Fighter Command Controller. During the war he served in Normandy, Belgium, Holland, Germany and India.

Have pride in all that you do, value everything and everyone, have respect for everything and everyone, keep smiling through, at all times and enjoy life to the full…James Abbott MBE

Dance band

At the end of the war James declined the offer of a commission within the RAF, advising his friends and family that his love of music influenced this important decision, but he was guided by his heart.

James was soon to form his own highly popular eight piece dance band, “Jimmy Abbott and the Music Makers” and was in great demand from the dance halls all over Scotland for the following 12 years.


It was in 1952 that James was officially elected to the post of secretary to the Scottish Association when he became the youngest member of the committee.

He became president of the Scottish Brass Band Association in 1967, a post which he proudly held for thirty eight years, his natural flair for organising many a complex event, was evident in the great success of the British and European events he organised.

Founder member

He was a founder member of the European Brass Band Association in 1978, and served on their Executive from 1978-2002 and acted as Contest Controller in London, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Plymouth and Nottingham events.

James was for many years Contest controller for Boosey & Hawkes at the National Finals in London’s Royal Albert Hall. He also assisted as Contest Controller in many other events around the UK and served on the National Contesting Council.

In Scotland he was a founder member of the European Youth Brass Band Contest and the Carnegie Brass Band Contest, and served on the committee of many local and national organisations.

Palace award

In 1990 James's work and dedication was rewarded at the highest level when he was awarded the M.B.E. by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace, in recognition for his services to music.

Many appointments have come James's way during his banding years.

These include Honorary Organising Secretary of the Edinburgh Charities Band Association, Chairman of the British Brass Band Registry Advisory Council, and Honorary Vice President of the National Association of Brass Band Conductors, two four year terms as a member of the BBC Music Advisory Committee, representative from Scotland to both the National Brass Band Championships and the European Brass Band Championships and Chairman of the re-constructed National Contesting Council and Carnegie Dunfermline Contest since its inception. James was also a guest of the BBC radio programme “Down your way” and was “instrumental” in many other media events.


Although music ran through James’s veins, he was also a gifted journalist and photographer which led him to a great involvement with his local community, where he made many friends. His regular weekly contributions to the British Bandsman over a long number of years kept everyone informed of what was happening in the brass band scene in Scotland and beyond.

Family and friends

James’s great passion for music was equaled by his love for his family and friends, He was a dedicated husband to Hilary for fifty five happy years and a proud father to his three daughters, Caroline, Gail and Louise and four grand-children Ben, Nicholas, Leo and Luke.

Enjoy life to the full

He added something special to all their lives, he will be greatly missed. His daughter Gail treasures his words of advice to her... “Have pride in all that you do, value everything and everyone, have respect for everything and everyone, keep smiling through, at all times and enjoy life to the full…”

On behalf of the Scottish Brass Band Association and the European Brass Band Association, we thank James for his long and dedicated service to brass bands in Scotland and beyond.

Our sincere sympathy to Hillary and the family.

A funeral service for James will be held on Thursday 17th January at Mortonhall Crematorium, Edinburgh at 12 noon.

Peter Fraser
Louise Igoe

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