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Burglers Holiday for Besses

Besses get burgled and lose a treasure whilst Dyke and YBS get new recruits and St. Helens start to work.


Besses Boars Head is Stolen.

It is very sad to report that the bandroom of the famous Besses O’ th’ Barn band was burgled over the Christmas period and a number of items, including one of their most treasured possessions, the mounted Boar’s Head that was presented to the band in New Zealand following their World Tour of 1910 were taken.

In addition, the burglars also wrecked much of the bandhall, stole a large amount of percussion, 2 Bb basses (which were subsequently recovered severely damaged down a near by railway embankment), computer equipment and a euphonium.

It is however the treasured Boar’s Head, which has taken pride of place in the centre of the bandroom since that time that has caused the greatest amount of grief, as it represents one of the great artefacts of the bands long and famous history, and in many ways is irreplaceable.

If anyone has any information about the whereabouts of any of the stolen items could they please contact either Dave Aston on 01772 701216 or the Greater Manchester Police on 0161 872 5050.

There is a reward offered for information leading to the recovery of the Boar’s Head.

Dave Aston remains upbeat about the return of the prized possession and still retained his humour to suggest that after reading our article on the 10 worse band uniforms of all time, he could understand why none of those were even touched during the raid.

If anyone can help, you can also contact 4BR direct.

YBS announce new faces for 2002

Following the recent departures of a few faces from their ranks, the Yorkshire Building Society Band has announced a number of replacements and an influx of talented players.

Rhodri Thomas, formally a member of the Whitburn band, who now works in Manchester has joined the front row cornet section, whilst Alex Helieur has taken over on the first horn bench. Alex was formally with the Point of Ayr Band and has attracted the attention of David King on previous occasions. He is currently a student at Huddersfield University.

The bass trombone position has been more than adequately filled by Gareth Beckwith, who moves directly from Williams Fairey and is just back in the country after a spell abroad playing in the pit orchestra with a touring opera company in Germany.

Finally the bass section sees the return of the mighty Simon Gresswell, formally of Black Dyke, Williams Fairey and more than a few other top class bands, who has jumped at the chance to return to the band after a family break of about 12 months. Also joining him there will be Peter Smith who up until recently was the Principal Eb player with the Todmorden Old band and was the soloist winner at the 2000 Brass in Concert Championships at Spennymoor and is featured on their latest CD release entitle “Moon Pictures” which has just come out.

Band Manager Richard Hirst is delighted with the signings and also informed 4BR that a decision to whom will be filling the important solo euphonium chair will be announced very shortly. 4BR has heard rumours that it could well be Stephen Mead, the well-known star euphonium player, but this was neither confirmed nor denied.

The new YBS CD entitled “Windows of the World” will be released in January and will be previewed here by 4BR.

Dyke to get new Solo Baritone

4BR also has be informed that the new man to take over the solo baritone seat at Black Dyke could well be Robert Richardson who has for the past year or so been holding the same position with Fodens. Although this neither been confirmed or denied as yet, it appears that the talented young man could be the one to take over from the recently departed (in musical terms that is) Robert Blackburn.

St Helens Youth start training for 2002

Just to show that not all youngsters will be sitting on their backsides playing their computer games, the reigning National Youth Champions, the St. Helens Youth Brass Band will be preparing for the defence of their title in February with a weekend of intensive rehearsals and sectional practise under the guidance of Musical Director, Lynda Nicholson from the 4th to the 6th of January.

Also helping the band out will be tutors, David Geohegan and John Doyle (the British Open instrumental winner in 2001) from Black Dyke, as well as Ian Smith, Simon Cowen, Mark Bousie and Danny Sinclair.

They will also be showing off their playing at concerts at Formby Hall, Atherton on Saturday 20th January and at the Royal Northern College of Music, with the Stockport Schools Band as part of the 2002 RNCM Festival of Brass.

The band also reports that two former players have moved into the big time by joining top bands, with James Dunbar joining Ever Ready on Eb bass and Ivor Philips joining Rothwell Temperance on horn.

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Craig Roberts

BA (Hons), MA
Conductor / Adjudicator