The death has been announced of Philip Thomas, usually known as Phil, after a short illness. He died on aged 89 on 18th January, 2019.
Born in Stafford in 1929 he learned to play the cornet in the Salvation Army where his parents were Captains. On leaving school, he became an apprentice draughtsman. He later joined the Army initially as a National Serviceman and played the cornet in the REME Band. He studied playing and conducting at Kneller Hall.
After leaving the Army, he played with Hanwell Band, followed by a spell with Sankey's Castle Works Band and then, in 1955 he moved to Yorkshire to work at YEWCO Ltd. He joined as solo cornet of a band which morphed from the famous St. Hilda's Band.
Here he met Walter Mann, who introduced him to his daughter Pauline. Phil and Pauline were married in 1956 with the Best Man at their wedding being YEWCO Band's principal cornet, Maurice Murphy.
After a period living and working in the Worcester area, Phil moved to Coventry in 1966 to work at Jaguar Cars. He joined City of Coventry Band and during the next 13 years he played cornet under the batons of Albert Chappell, Ray Farr and Kenneth Dennison. He was also a member of Harry Mortimer's 'Men O' Brass'.
During this period, Maurice Murphy recorded Denis Wright's 'Cornet Concerto' with City of Coventry and, by happy coincidence the recording date was Phil and Pauline's 18th wedding anniversary.
The two families met up for a weekend of celebration. Playing percussion in the band that day was Phil's son Nigel Thomas, now the Principal Timpanist with the London Symphony Orchestra.
In 1979, Phil moved to the Southport area as a college lecturer and became conductor of the Formby Band. Subsequently he moved to Dunstable where he became a senior lecturer at Dunstable & Barnfield (Luton) Colleges. He retired in 2011.
1985 until his passing, Phil arranged music for and conducted the Dunstable Ensemble Orchestra (formerly Dunstable College Orchestra) who will play at a celebration of his life on Monday, 11th February at 1.00pm.
After leaving the Army, he played with Hanwell Band, followed by a spell with Sankey's Castle Works Band and then, in 1955 he moved to Yorkshire to work at YEWCO Ltd4BR
The funeral will be held at The Vale Cemetery and Crematorium, Butterfield Green Road, Luton, LU2 8DD and afterwards at, The United Services Club, 160 High Street South, Dunstable, LU6 3HS.