There was a contesting band in Garforth years back, but not in recent decades. A non-contesting band – Garforth Jubilee – was set up in 1977 to honour the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, meeting in a local primary school. This band continues to do sterling work in the area, performing concerts and supporting local events and charities.
However, In 2004 Steven Bailey, a local peripatetic music teacher at the time, decided he wanted to get back into the brass band scene, having played in top class bands in the past. He got together for busking at Christmas with some like-minded people, and the result was that a band was formed in on 1st January 2005. At first it was known as Garforth Community Brass Band, meeting originally in the local Scout Hut on a Sunday morning.
The band entered the Yorkshire Regional contest for the first time as a 4th Section band in February 2005 and came 2nd, qualifying for the National Final in Harrogate. They also came 2nd in the final and were promoted to the 3rd Section for 2006.
By now the name had changed to Garforth Brass, and the band moved to Garforth Community College to rehearse on a Sunday evening.
Having built up a strong team the band came 2nd in the 2008 Regional and again qualified for the National Final in Harrogate. They were disappointed to come 16th in that competition, but undaunted entered the Butlin’s Mineworkers Festival at Skegness in January 2009, and came 5th in the 3rd Section after a 5 o’clock start on a freezing cold day.
Two months later came their finest hour so far, when they became Yorkshire 3rd Section Champions for 2009. Other contests entered that year included Otley, Morley and Easingwold and representing Yorkshire again in the National Final at Harrogate.
The other big news in 2009 was the move to rehearsing at Garforth Methodist Church. The Minister at that time, Ray Hinch, was a big supporter of the band, and in fact arranged for the band to play at his leaving service in August 2010.
After promotion to the 2nd section, 2010 was a year for consolidation and 5th place was achieved at the 2nd Section Regional in March. Not long after that the band’s first CD “Making Tracks” was recorded at Garforth Methodist Church.
In January 2011 Garforth Brass had another early start when it made an appearance on Daybreak on ITV national television, providing live music as a backdrop to an article about keeping fit and living a healthy lifestyle! By the time of the 2013 competition the band was back in the 3rd Section and Steve felt it was time for him to move on, so in April 2013 the band appointed Mark Wildie from Wakefield as their new Musical Director. Although Mark was very enthusiastic and took the band to several successful contests and concerts, there was still a problem with players leaving the band. However, having pulled out all the stops and called in favours from many past acquaintances and new friends, we did manage to get a full band together to perform Partita in Bradford in 2014 and the band did themselves proud on the day.
Following Mark there was a brief spell under the direction of Charles Fyffe, a music student from Huddersfield University, who had studied under Philip McCann, and then the baton was passed to Michael Cox. Michael was one of the founder members of the band, being there with Steve at the very beginning in 2005.
Michael took the band to Bradford in 2015 and we came a respectable 8th, but unfortunately due to the way the rankings are worked out this was not enough to secure our position in the 3rd Section, so from 1st January 2016 we are once more full circle back in the 4th Section. The band had a successful year in 2015, taking part in Ripon Entertainment Contest in May which was very enjoyable and also performing a well-supported concert as part of the Garforth Arts Festival at St Mary’s Church. We also held a Summer Fayre to celebrate our 10th Anniversary and help towards much needed funds. Falling numbers unfortunately meant we were unable to enter the Bradford competition in 2016 and due to a personal change of circumstances we said a reluctant farewell to Michael.
From this rock bottom position, the band has already made tremendous strides in 2016.
- In March 2016, we held a ‘come and play’ day in Garforth, generously sponsored by local music wholesalers John Hornby Skewes. Members of the public were able to try a range of brass and percussion instruments out and receive a taster lesson.
- Off the back of that, we launched our new Training Band in April. We have a vision to encourage and enable new players of any age to join the brass band movement and thereby grow the pool of available players.
Following a short spell under James Beecham we have started 2017 by appointing John Thompson as our Musical Director for both the senior band and the Training Band. We are actively recruiting to be able to fulfil our engagements this year and hope to be able to compete in the Yorkshire Regional Competition in 2018.