BATTLE OF THE TITANS - Bands gear up for a titanic battle at the Royal Albert Hall

Issue 6016

COMPOSERS' CORNER - Dr Liz Lane looks at the subject of  networking 

HERE IS THE NEWS - Looking back at the Daily Herald's Nationals sponsorship

Astley Youth Band reaches quarter of a century

Saturday 16 November, 2019

Astley Youth Band celebrated its 25th anniversary recently with a concert and reunion party at Leigh Sports Village. 

The reunion event brought together players, parents and friends from throughout the 25-year history of the band, and was attended by the mayor of Wigan, Steve Dawber, councillors Christine Roberts, Paula Wakefield and Barry Taylor, and Astley Rotary president, Michael Hack. 

The band was formed in 1994 by Helen and Stephen Minshall, who have worked for 25 years to give local children the valuable experience of learning to play a brass instrument and the chance to play in a band. Hundreds of children have participated in the band over the last 25 years, with several going on to enjoy careers as professional musicians. 

During its existence, the band has been on 15 tours to a wide variety of destinations including France, Germany, Holland, Ireland and Scotland. 
An independent organisation, Astley Youth Band is a registered charity and relies on fundraising for its existence. Rehearsals take place on Thursday evenings at Bedford High School in Leigh, from 6.45--8.45pm under the direction of Toby Hobson. 

The Training Band for beginners rehearses from 6.30-7.30pm under Samantha Raisbeck.  

In 2015 the organisation expanded dramatically and an adult band, Astley Unlimited Band, was formed. This band rehearses during the daytime on Mondays at St Stephen's Church, Astley, from 11.30am-1pm, directed by Helen Minshall, catering for around 30 players of all ages and abilities; retirees, shift workers, ranging from 20-85.  

The organisation also runs Astley Unlimited Choir, which was formed in 2017, and this rehearses at St Stephen's with Sue Stirzaker on Mondays before band practice from 10am-11am.  

New members are always welcome and further details can be found on the band website.
Helen Minshall has written a book called Astley Youth Band - The First 25 Years, with the full history of the band and many photographs. Details of how to order are on the website.