Creating a buzz at the National Youth Championships

Issue 5965

All the fun of the big event at Warwick University

BBC success for Isobel Daws and Thomas Nielsen

European stage awaits in Utrecht

Oxfordshire and District AGM

Wednesday 11 October, 2017

On the 22 January 2012, the Oxfordshire and District Brass Band Association had an Extraordinary General Meeting to discuss its future, calling on all bands in the area to send a representative so a decision could be made to continue or to disband the body. The entertainment contests run by the association from 2003 to 2012 had been few and far between, with only three contests in those nine years, with as few as six bands attending. The winter contest was not run between 2005 and 2012 due to lack of numbers and the annual Brass Festival run by the association was struggling each year to attract participants.

The well-attended January 2012 meeting was frank and open; the members of the association were asked for their views and the representatives that came gave their reasons for non-attendance at the ODBBA events. The ODBBA subsequently took the points raised and dragged the association back from the brink of collapse. The committee called on the local bands to support the events they organise and to join the committee to work on the rebuilding process. Over the following years, the success of the organisation was breath-taking, from entertainment contests that managed six or so bands in the past, this year they are looking forward to welcoming 17 to Marlborough School in Woodstock in October. The Winter contest has taken on the role of ‘Area’ contest run-out and attracted so many bands in 2017 it had to be run over two days with 36 bands entering across six sections.

The turnaround has come through hard work and commitment from a core group of committee members, including Nikki Jones (Chair) has guided the association and has been tireless in her ambition to get the association moving in the right direction, David Roberts (Contest Secretary), who has successfully run the contests that are the life-blood of the association, Lynne Whitley, who for many years was the Treasurer of the association and is now a general committee member but continues to work hard for the association and put in a lot of time to help with the resurgence of the ODBBA, Nigel Hall who appoints the adjudicators and helps run the contests with David and is the Vice Chair, and President Ken Membury, who is always offering assistance and advice to the committee on all matters banding.

This committee along with the members that have come and gone over the past six years have helped to turn the association around. The contests are well attended because of many factors; the venue is excellent, with disabled access and good facilities throughout, the catering is wonderful with fresh sandwiches, cakes, tea and coffee available all weekend, the warm-up rooms for every band to get a decent amount of time to warm-up (‘Area’ associations should take note), the contests keep to time, the adjudicators that are employed are highly respected and access to parking is also very good. The contests are commentated through social media and official results are posted to the ODBBA website within minutes of being announced.

These factors are a recipe for successful contests and well run contests will attract bands from further afield, with word of mouth and social media encouraging even more bands to want to be part of this great success story.

As someone who went to that meeting in January 2012, served on the committee for a couple of years during the time as things improved, attends all of the band contests that the association put on and hears the comments from the bands that attend I have nothing but admiration in the way the committee have turned around the fortunes of the association and long may it continue.

Rob Tomkins