They’re not the type to blow their own trumpet. But Thorpe Hesley Brass Band have been presented with an award from the High Sheriff of South Yorkshire, Lt Col Mac McPherson, for their services to music.
The High Sheriff Award was formally presented to the band on Saturday 25th February at Holy Trinity Church, Thorpe Hesley, where the band gave a stellar performance showing why they were worthy winners.
I don’t quite know what I expected when taking a pew in the church. But from the off, Thorpe Hesley Brass Band blew me away. Conductor, Wayne Bostwick, was right when he said they don’t do subtle. Bon Jovi’s ‘It’s My Life’ set the tone, followed by Lady Gaga’s ‘Poker Face’, a Barnsley version of ‘Under the Boardwalk’, and even the YMCA. Theirs is the type of performance that leaves your feet tapping, makes your hairs stand up on the back of your neck, and gives you a lump in your throat.
As he presented the award, the High Sheriff praised the band for their contribution to the wider community.
He said: “I’ve taken a slightly different approach in choosing my High Sheriff commendations. I have been searching for unsung heroes who take no money, and not enough thanks, but enhance the lives of others. Thorpe Hesley Brass Band are the perfect recipients. They’re innovative, imaginative and certainly entertaining.
“The standard they play at shows the significant amount of work that members put in. It’s lovely to watch the very youngest to the more mature who are all a credit to the band and a credit to the communities they represent.”
The accolade comes after the band first impressed the High Sheriff at his summer garden party at Wortley Hall last July. Visitors from around the country who attended the party were stunned at how Thorpe Hesley Brass Band go beyond the traditional brass style.
They’re known to march to the beat of their own drum, differing from many other ensembles by not competing. Success to them is simply making brass banding fun and rewarding. They’re a community, a family of talented people who come together and simply play for the love of music.
Their 16 members range in age from pre-teens to pensioners. Their youngest member is ten-year-old Holly who plays the horn. Music must be in her blood as her parents, cornet player Kathy and drummer Martin, met each other in the band. Kathy is one of the original three members who pushed for the band to extend beyond schoolchildren and now leads the band.
“There’s something very charming about the family bond they have, and I was impressed with how they attract and train younger people,” said the High Sheriff.
Young people have always been at the heart of the band. It was formed in 1986 by the then headteacher of Thorpe Hesley Junior School, Brian Copley who wanted to enable children taking part in school music lessons to continue on with their learning to play an instrument after moving up to secondary school.
Originally, the teens then left at 16 when they finished school. However, three of the band’s founder members decided they didn’t want to leave – and two of them are still there over 30 years later.
Over the years, the band has had several conductors but for the last eight years Wayne has directed their performances. Their repertoire covers a mix of genres from carols to pop songs, with a focus on playing music that band members like. They are often invited to play at community events and can also be booked for special occasions like weddings and funerals.
The band is always looking for more members to join them. There are no minimum grade requirements and no auditions to become a member, but you do need to have some playing experience and an ability to read music. So if you’re looking for an excuse to pick up your instrument again, want to boost your confidence or improve your skills, why not be a part of Thorpe Hesley Brass Band.
Thorpe Hesley Brass Band meet every Sunday 6pm-8pm at Trinity Community Centre, Thorpe Hesley S61 2QP. Membership is £10 per month for ten months of the year.
To join the band, or to make an enquiry about event performances, visit their website www.thorpehesleybrassband.co.uk