2014 has been an eventful year. We’ve maintained fundraising links with loyal supporters including The Rainford Trust and Barrow & Cook Solicitors. We’ve formed new relationships with high street names such John Lewis … and we’ve developed our relationship with the St Helens Music Hub, who are keen to support us in whatever way they can. For example, they co-funded the highly successful ‘Brass and Percussion Workshop Day’ with Rainford Band which culminated in an unforgettable and stunning evening performance which literally lifted the roof at the Rainford Village Hall.

Through bag packing and busking our players were able to fund a very successful tour to Volkenburg in Holland, widely acknowledged as being one of our best and most enjoyable tours to date. The band played at open-air concerts in town squares and enjoyed memorable social events including tobogganing, a river cruise and a day at the Fantasia theme park.

Over the summer months, with numbers dwindling, the committee came to the conclusion that a change of direction was required, so in September, we invited Gareth Brindle to be our Musical Director. Gareth is also M.D. at ‘Rainford Band’, and during the recent workshop it became clear how professionally he was working with the band and how well they were responding to him, earning their instant attention and respect. Gareth brings a wealth of experience and leads by example encouraging our young people to always do their very best.

In recent weeks we have promoted the whole of ‘C Band’ up to ‘B Band’ and in the New Year we will be holding a ‘Puff and Stuff’ open day to introduce beginners to an all new ‘C Band’. We’ve also welcomed Ben Grimshaw as a percussion tutor, this is a first for the band, helping to develop a much needed section.

The band, originally formed in 1979 was renamed SHYBB in 1990, so next year we are celebrating our 25th anniversary! Naturally, and we have some major events planned, including inspiring Master Classes for all bands from some of the UK’s leading brass players. Next summer we are planning a Youth Band ‘Alumni event’, with past members (many of whom now play professionally) re-uniting one more time to play with our current bands. To prepare for this we are taking A Band for a weekend break to a country retreat, which will include workshops, fun days out and evening social events … similar to Volkenburg, but not as far!

2015 will be another great year for SHYBB… but your help and support really is vital. The committee is made up of band parents … but as band members move on, so should the parents. We need a new generation of parents to come forward to start learning how the band operates. If you have organisational or accounting skills, experience in communication or fundraising, or simply have time to sell raffle tickets, make tea or photocopy, your band needs YOU, because You are the future.

Finally, the committee and I want it placed on record just how proud we all are of the behaviour, teamwork and bandsmanship demonstrated by our amazing young people. They are a credit to themselves, a credit to the band and promote brilliantly the good name of St Helens to audiences both at home and abroad.

They really are ‘Simply the Best’!