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Meet the Alder Valley Brass

Steve Burgess
Steve Burgess - Principal Cornet

Steve started playing trumpet at the age of 11 and was initially tutored by Pete Condon. In 2011 he joined Alder Valley Brass in his original capacity as Soprano cornet with the addition of becoming "Post Horn Soloist" (which he says keeps him fit) throughout the summer.

In addition to Alder Valley he still plays Trumpet, Piccolo Trumpet and Flugel and is a member of the non contesting Staines Lammas Band as Principal Cornet. When not playing, Steve is a Software Developer and has two children Connor (a Tuba player) and Sheelagh (a Percussionist).

Laura James
Laura James - Solo Cornet

I started playing the cornet when I was about 6 years old and eventually got to the dizzy heights of grade 8 at age 17 (I think!). I have vague memories of first hearing the band play whilst we were parked outside the bandroom on the day my parents moved us all down from the Midlands to Mere and wanting to learn to play.

I joined AVB in 2001 and I’ve been in the band ever since. It’s been great fun and we’ve had some memorable trips abroad over the years, including Oberursel in Germany, Delft and Switzerland (where I quickly discovered I’m rubbish at skiing!!).

Edward Tahourdin
Ed Tahardin - Solo Cornet (front row)

I started playing the trumpet at about ten. At first I hated it but then later on I realized I loved playing. Through out the 7 years I have been playing I have played in all kinds of bands from a Dixieland jazz band to an orchestra and a small little brass quintet. All of these bands have made me a better player. This is why I joined Alder Valley because I want to be able to play to an amazing standard. I also wanted to play in a brass band as my teacher was traditionally a brass band player.

Alan Frampton
Kevin Edwards - Soprano Cornet

We welcome Kevin Edwards, who has joined Alder Valley Brass on soprano cornet.



Claire Wade
Claire Wade - Repiano Cornet

Claire started playing in 1991. She was really looking to join a choir but she went along to her local town band just out of curiosity and was handed a cornet to try. The rest, as they say, is history!

After having been for many years Principal Cornet of that band and having depped with many other local bands over the years, she joined Alder Valley Brass in early 2014 for a new challenge. Claire has since become further involved as Trustee and General Secretary of AVB. In January 2016 she was awarded the cup for 'Musician of the Year' and in April 2017 she was awarded the George Prior Memorial Cup for 'Band Member of the Year'.

Catharine Baxter
Catharine Baxter - 2nd Cornet

I took up trumpet age 10, played in all sorts of school and county bands, and switched to cornet at the age of 20, pretty much when I joined CAMUS (the Corps of Army Music). I love music and sang in my church choir as a girl, and I play piano. I am a relative newcomer to AVB – I joined this year 2017.

I am married and have two gorgeous children (a son and a daughter).

I have previously played for Stannary Brass Band, The Band of the Royal Logistic Corps, Charles Church Camberley Band and Saint Sebastian Wokingham Band.

My proudest banding moment: Being commended in a review after my first contest when I’d only just started. Most memorable playing moment: Playing at and being part of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Steve Hubbard
Steve Hubbard - 2nd Cornet

I learned to play the cornet when I was 5 years old after listening to my neighbour practice. I recall a very dented but beautifully engraved silver cornet and a well used mouthpiece being thrust in my hand and given a piece of manuscript with the scale of C-major to practice ready for the rehearsal the following week.

In my 56 years of banding I have played all instruments around the band with soprano cornet being my favourite. In this time I have played with many bands of varying ability. Prior to proudly becoming a member of Alder Valley Brass I was principal cornet with Haslemere Town Band for 10 years.





Caz Woods
Caz Woods - 3rd Cornet

I was given a trumpet to play when my father took me and my sister to a evening class at the local adult education college. I played throughout senior school as principle trumpet with Sutton Schools wind band and orchestra and also with the Croydon Youth Philharmonic Orchestra under Conductor Arthur Davison. I enjoyed music trips abroad to Spain, Malta & America and a BBC recording of Ting Tang the elephant with conductor Douglas Coombes & animal magic's Johnny Morris.

Towards the end of my time at school I gave trumpet lessons & played in the pit at a west end theatre to pay for lessons with Crispian Steele-Perkins. Unfortunately a lack of funds prevented me from going to music college so I gave up playing.

After many years I dusted off my trumpet and joined Woking Wind Orchestra for a year. This rekindled my interest in playing so after another break I looked for a band to play with, bought a cornet and joined Alder Valley in May 2017.

Donna Tubb
Donna Tubb - Flugel Horn

Donna started playing at Townfield School at the age of 11 under the tutorship of Bill Rumford. With the Girls Brigade band she progressed to Trumpet/Cornet playing in Hillingdon Music School for a number of years. During her time there she was involved with recording a record at the BBC and also a 2 week band tour to Bulgaria which was very interesting to say the least at 13 years old.

Donna has played as a guest with a number of bands in and around the southeast. She has also studied cornet under Charley Brighton, and is an accomplished player performing a number of recitals at St Mary's church in Slough. In 2011 Donna made the brave move to take up the Flugelhorn seat at Alder Valley Brass, a position which she has found very challenging but feels was the right move.

Liz McGrath
Liz McGrath - Solo Horn

I grew up in Yorkshire and so it was inevitable, with my musical interests that I would be playing a brass instrument. From the age of 10 I started to learn the tenor horn and played in the Wakefield Metropolitan Schools band. We moved South to Hampshire in 1992 and I began to play in the Hampshire County Youth Band under the baton of Leighton Rich. I spent many years with HCYB and enjoyed tours to Hungary, Belgium, Germany and Austria. I was also fortunate at this time to play with the National Youth Band of Great Britain on 1st Horn and learnt from directorship of Roy Newsome.

My time with Alder Valley Brass initially began in 1997 as I played with the band for a year before moving to Leeds University to study Music. After having several years off from playing, I re-joined the band in June 2007.

Nick Betts
Nick Betts - 1st Horn

Nick Betts joined Alder Valley Brass after moving back home following his graduation from Durham University.

Nick started to play at the age of 11 and has played tenor horn with North East Hampshire Areas Youth Band and Durham University Brass Band where he was an exec member and the president.

Nick started to play the cornet during summer 2013, however, he has now moved to the horn section and plays first horn.



Rob Greene
Rob Greene - 1st Baritone

Rob started learning the trumpet when he was 12. He soon moved to cornet and then joined the Richmond Schools Band. At the age of 15, Rob became a member of Watneys Silver Band (later Richmond Band), who competed in the Championship Section, and progressed to playing Flugel Horn.

Rob followed his two sons into the Alder Valley Brass in 2000, and now plays Solo Baritone. After having been Alder Valley's Contest Secretary for many years, Rob is now Treasurer of the band, as well as being Vice Chairman.

Judith May
Judith May - Baritone

I decided to learn to play a brass instrument at the age of 12 after having a go on a cornet my cousin was learning to play and being surprised that I could get a note out of it. The school had a choice of Eb tenor horn or Eb bass, and it was agreed all round that I might be better suited to the Tenor horn. Having joined the school band I was asked by a friend a few weeks later if I would consider playing in a local brass band; Loxley Methodist and there started my career in brass bands.

I have played Tenor horn throughout apart from the last few months at Sandhurst, where I moved on to baritone to fill a vacancy as we had a surplus of horns. I joined Alder Valley on Baritone in the Autumn of 2014 after agreeing to help them out at the Leicester contest. Later moving on to horn Feb 2016.

Roy Hancock
Roy Hancock - Euphonium

Roy began playing tenor horn aged 8 with the Band of the First Whitstable Scout Group, where his late father played BBb bass.

He switched to euphonium 8 years later and has played that instrument ever since - subsequently with Snowdown Colliery, Folkestone, Godalming and since 1992 Alder Valley Brass.

Roy was made Chairman of the band at the AGM in 2017 and is also a Trustee.

Bob Larbey
Bob Larbey - 2nd Euphonium

Bob began playing cornet at age 9, taking lessons at school. His first band was the recently formed Farnborough Brass, starting on cornet, then trying tenor horn, although really fancying euphonium. With an ex Salvation Army euphonium of unknown vintage, and Harry Harrison (also of the Aldershot Brass Ensemble at that time) as his mentor, Bob's career on euphonium was started.

By 2012 he had decided that he needed some brass banding and joined Farnham Brass Band. During a trip to the National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall, he met Alder Valley Brass MD Roger Burke and agreed, over a pint, to play euphonium for a concert with AVB. After hearing the band he could not resist, and joined a month later to play bass.



Chris Newton
Chris Newton - Solo Trombone

In 1972 when Chris was at Heathcote Memorial Middle School in Ash, he was invited along with several other children to try out some brand new Chinese brass instruments, which the school had just bought. This was really good, as he was excused from his maths class.

At the Canford Summer School that he met Nigel Clark, Black Dyke Band's Composer in Residence and also at that time conductor of Alder Valley Brass. Nigel invited him to come along for a blow with the band because he was playing with Horsham Borough Silver, having played baritone with Horsham at the French Open. In 1998 he joined Alder Valley Brass playing tenor trombone.

Mike Pennicote-Henrie
Mike Pennicotte-Henrie - Trombone

I was first introduced to the world of brass, whilst in my first year at secondary school. The then music teacher Mr Barlow, was looking for a student to provide the bass line for a wind ensemble he was putting together. As I was the tallest member of his tutor form, he handed me a rather battered Eb Bass, suggesting that my stature would enable me to ‘handle’ the large instrument.

I was born in Surrey, but at the age of 12, moved to Steep, a small village just outside the market town of Petersfield in East Hampshire. The move to Hampshire coincided with a move from Eb Bass to Trombone.

Through out the last 4 decades I have enjoyed playing with many varied and interesting musical groups in around Hampshire, including several local bands, Liss Band, Luckett's Travel Band and Spinnaker Brass. I have also been a member of several local orchestras, a swing band and brass ensembles.

My most memorable playing moment was actually not as a trombone player, but performing as a lone drummer, on the centre floor spot of the Albert Hall. The performance was in front of a packed hall, which included the Her Majesty the Queen and the late great Roy Castle.

John Gillespie
John Gillespie - Eb Bass

I played Eb Bass for a few years with the Hillingdon Band (subsequently renamed Denham Brass), was invited back to Alder Valley then, in about 2003, I spent 18 months playing with the Sandhurst Silver Band. Finally, in 2005, I returned to Alder Valley Brass where I have been ever since.

I feel I have been lucky enough to have played in successful bands in all sections both in the UK and in New Zealand. By playing in brass bands I have been able to play in Germany, Belgium, France, UK, New Zealand and Switzerland. I have experienced playing on Radio, TV and Vinyl, Tape and CD as well as performing in Symphony Hall, The Royal Albert Hall and Oktoberfest (Munich).

Clive James
Clive James - BBb Bass

I started playing the cornet with the British Steel Corporation Band in South Wales. I joined the Army in 1966 in the Welsh Guards band and stayed with them for 9 years. I left for over 4 years and then rejoined the Royal Corps of Transport Band and stayed with them for 22 years. During that time I travelled extensively with the band, and did a tour in Asia.

After I left I did not play for approx 10-15 years but was asked to play for a reunion concert the Royal Corps of Transport Association was giving. As I wanted to make sure I could still play, I borrowed a BBb Bass from Alder Valley Brass and went along to some rehearsals. I have stayed with Alder Valley Brass ever since.



Lyn Sandford
Lyn Sandford - Public Relations Officer

I was brought up in Hampshire, and trained in Horticulture. I am married with three grown up children. Following six years in Europe I retrained as a Secretary and worked in schools in both Yorkshire and Hampshire. In later years I joined the National Trust as an Administrator at a stately house and garden and still work for them in a support role.

I became interested in Brass Bands when we lived in Yorkshire for seventeen years. Although I do not play an instrument I enjoyed the music and encouraged one of our daughters to take up a brass instrument. When we moved back to Hampshire, I supported her playing by joining the Hampshire Youth Bands Parents' committee as secretary.

It was at an Alder Valley Brass concert 5 years ago that mention was made that a Public Relations Officer was required. My offer to help, was duly accepted and I am now a Trustee as well as PR officer and most recently web manager. In 2016 I was awarded the George Prior Memorial Cup for 'Band Member of the Year'.



Alder Valley Brass Band Vice Presidents

Mick Bolton
Mick Bolton - Vice President

Mick started to play with Alder Valley Brass in 1970 after leaving the army. At the time the band was called the Aldershot Brass Ensemble. They practiced in what was Christies Cosmetic Factory, in North Lane, Aldershot. In 1980 a new practice venue had to be found and Mick had a spare shed on the small holding where he lived in Badshot Lea. This became the band room for many years until his move to Devon. During this time Mick did have a few years as Contest Secretary for the band.

Mick has played a variety of Brass Instruments over the years, Cornet, Trombone and Bb Bass. Mick remembers travelling with the band and one year did an excellent concert in Stuttgart. After 38 years with Alder Valley Brass Mick retired and is now living in Devon and plays for Torquay Brass.

Peter Haigh
Peter Haigh - Vice President

I started playing the cornet in 1968, quite by accident. The woodwork teacher at Glossop School in Derbyshire also ran the school brass and, in a woodwork lesson one day, he challenged the class to try and get a note out of an old cornet. I was one of the few to achieve this and I went home that night with said cornet under my arm; able to make a sound on the instrument but unable to read a note of music. However there were plenty of opportunities for music lessons in the local area and by the time I left school, I was principal cornet in the school band and in local brass band, Tintwistle Band.

I continued playing after school, as my employment in air traffic control engineering took me to Bletchley in Buckinghamshire, Aberdeen, back to the Manchester area and finally to the Aldershot area with my Julie. I joined the Aldershot Brass Ensemble, as Alder Valley Brass was then known, in 1984; initially playing cornet, then moving onto the flugel horn a few years later and, finally, moving back to the cornet and becoming the principal cornet in 2003. I remained in that position, through thick and thin, until 2014 when Julie and I relocated back to Glossop in Derbyshire, for family reasons. So now, more than 35 years after leaving, and in retirement, I am back with Tintwistle Band, and still getting a kick out of playing the cornet.

During my time with Alder Valley Brass there were many contest successes (plus a few notable failures), and prestigious concert performances throughout the southeast, and on the continent, in Germany, Holland, Belgium and France. However there were two memorable occasions I would like to share with you.

The first was a memorial concert held at the Princes Hall Aldershot, in 1984, following the untimely death of George Prior, much respected trombone player and founder of the Aldershot Brass Ensemble. The final item was a piece called Resurgam, composed by Eric Ball, and conducted by Frank Renton. The emotion from the performance was overwhelming and, as the final notes of the music died away there was barely a dry eye in the auditorium.

The second was a much happier occasion, a joint concert with the 200-strong West Sussex Philharmonic Choir at Horsham, West Sussex, in 1996. After performing separate concert items in the first half, band and choir came together in the second half of the concert to perform the music Carmina Burana, composed by Carl Orff. The arrangement was unlike anything we had played before (and since) and of course only really came together when the band and choir performed together - which only happened properly in a rehearsal on the day of the concert. For many in the band at the time, myself included, that was just about the best concert played by AVB.

Phil German
Phil German - Vice President

I joined Aldershot Brass Ensemble in 1963 I was 12 and sat bluffing on third cornet, working my way up to front row cornet, then Eb bass, then 2nd Baritone, 1st Baritone and finally Eb bass again.

We started in the 4th Section and under the baton of George Prior worked our way up to playing in the Championship section at the Albert Hall. We had by this time changed to being Alder Valley Brass receiving sponsorship from the local bus company.

Highlights of playing with the band included three appearances at The National Finals at The Royal Albert Hall, making a record with Ronald Binge, TV series with Harry Worth, Songs of Praise, TV Lenny and Gerry at The Talk of The Town, TV Jimmy Edwards, Mud playing backing tracks for a record. The Two Ronnies was amazing, we did two shows "Aldershot Brass Ensemble" and "Hello Sailor". The Ronnies were so friendly and made us all feel part of the team. We also mixed in the bar with the casts of "Are you being served" and "Till Death Do Us Part" we felt like celebs.

Another special night with Gerry Nicholson and Bruce Gentry was helping Hanwell Band do the backing track for The Floral Dance with Sir Terry Wogan. We had a special relationship with The Wernau Band in Southern Germany who were very worroed about coming to the home of the British Army but we soon made them welcome. We had four visits (I think) to play at their music festival, they in turn visited us. We did book them to play at a British Legion Parade but had to cancel because the national press got wind of it, times have hopefully changed.

Further trips to Oberusel twice (Aldershot's twin town), Maastricht, Delft and Brussels were the mark of a successful busy band. My roles were treasurer for a bit until they realised I couldn't count and then the band manager working with a great committee to make Alder Valley one of the south's best bands having the best times and in the 1980s and 1990s winning all the Southern band competitions going.

Our founding conductor was George Prior, he was followed by Clive Rubery, Bruce Gentry, Dennis Lease, Duncan Beckley, Nigel Clarke, David Barringer, David Marshall and finally I left for a new challenge with Friary Band in Guildford.

Then came Roger Burke and a new exciting era of Alder Valley !

I was very honoured to be made an Honorary Vice President of The Band which was a big part of my life for over 40 years.

Roger Balls
Roger Balls - Vice President

I joined the band in 1980 after leaving the army where I served for 25 years with the RCT Staff Band. During my time with the band I played mainly in the cornet section where I shared a stand for a long time with the great Gerry Nicholson. I also moved onto baritone for a short time when the band was short of players in that section.

I was appointed deputy conductor and took the band on many rehearsal nights and concerts. I retired from playing in early 2000 and left the band to take up a position as Musical Director with the Basingstoke Concert Band where I stayed for twelve years. I retired from music altogether at Christmas last year.