Looking for support - 4BR reports from the British Federation of Brass Bands AGM


There were plenty of opinions, views and debate at the BFBB AGM - just not enough people from the banding movement...

Principal players: The BFBB's hard working principal officers

The good news: Annual General Meeting of the British Federation of Brass Bands was a robust and lively old affair in Barnsley on Saturday 17th April.

After the usual preliminaries and AGM business was concluded, an Open Forum covered topics as diverse as the English National Championships and section criteria at the National Youth Championships, to the work of the BFBB Development Officer and even the forthcoming employment of a National Liaison Officer.

It was informed, constructive debate - at times passionate, with agreements, disagreements, a few raised eyebrows, the odd grumble and quite a bit of laughter.  

The bad news: Just 17 people attended.

Banding movement

That included three members of the press, the members of the Executive Committee seeking re-election – and two lads from the Deepcarr Band in Yorkshire and Chris Wormald from Smithills School, who made up the representation of the rest of the entire British banding movement.

You were left with a great deal of sympathy for the BFBB: It offers an open forum and the chance for the banding public to have its say, and just two cracking lads from a Fourth Section band in Yorkshire and one conductor turn up.

It does make you wonder just how much desire there is on the part of bands to safeguard their own futures.  

On July 3rd a ‘Summit’ meeting of the great and good, and those who can get off their backsides, will meet in Birmingham to hopefully set about putting in place the first steps of a survival plan for British banding.

On this evidence Lazurus needs to be a guest speaker.

Need of a boost

The BFBB is an organisation that is in need of a boost from the general banding community.

A nine strong Executive Committee that has changed little in the past five or more years, backs the three principal officers of Chariman, Robert Morgan MBE, Treasurer, Nigel Morgan and General Secretary, Carol Tattersfield.

All were re-elected on block – not through self-interest it must be clearly stated, but rather more through self-preservation. There was no list of potential replacements or challengers. Re-election went through on the type of nod last seen at the 1945 Communist Party AGM.  

These people work their socks off, but wear the weight of the responsibility of running the National Youth Championships, English Nationals, the Registry, employing a Development Officer and administering a sizeable budget with good humour and an almost stoic sense of duty.

Deepcarr duo
Deepcarr duo: Geraint Hale and James Broadhead find out more...

No coincidence

They desperately need help though – and for the most part, not much is forthcoming (although a special mention must go to the members of the North West Counties BBA, and the North West Area BB Association who not for the first time put in a hard shift at the Youth Championships on the Sunday)

Others do their bit, but it is no coincidence that the people you usually see lugging equipment, organising bands on stage and doing all the back stage work at Preston, Prestatyn and Manchester are the people who made the long trip to Barnsley.

It may only have been a small piece of encouragement, but Geraint Hale and James Broadhead were the two lads from the Deepcarr Band that turned up on the day.

”We wanted to find out more and to see what the BFBB did and could do for a band such as ours,” James told 4BR.

The pair is working hard with their band to secure its playing as well as financial future and have a number of successful projects already on the go. They are the type of people that the BFBB needs, and the duo were encouraged by what they heard at the meeting.

”We’ll go back and discuss things, but it was good that there is going to be a Liaison Officer to works with bands such as ours and help us develop in the future.”

National Liasion Officer

The news that the BFBB had secured funding from the Arts Council for the role of a National Liaison Officer, as well as an additional Administrative Assistant, was one of the highlights of a robust report given by Chairman Robert Morgan MBE.

Details of the post, and an advert requesting applications will be published shortly, whilst it is envisaged that the post will be initially project led, with some cross over with the work currently undertaken by the Development Officer Philip Watson.

It is hoped however that the appointment will see the person develop grass root partnerships between bands and local education authorities, local funding bodies, charities and councils.  

With the news of money to be applied for from its ‘Progressive Awards’ scheme and the proceeds of the Norman Jones Trust Fund, the BFBB believes it has plenty to offer current and potential members.

Developing a smile: Philip Watson, the BFBB Development Officer

Healthy state

The Treasurer’s report also outlined the healthy state of the organisation’s finances (something which Nigel Morgan can take a great deal of credit for), although it was recognised that a drive for increased membership was essential. A current total of 180 bands with 20 youth band organisations (free members) still seems a pretty fragile base on which to build a robust financial future.

Disappointingly, given what the Deepcarr representatives had said about finding out what the BFBB had to offer, there was no formal written report of the Development Officer’s work (for a second successive year) – a matter that was discussed in the Open Forum.

Meanwhile, the BFBB President, Peter Parkes, delivered an upbeat address as he accepted with good grace his election for another year.

In 40 minutes the AGM was concluded

Open Forum

The Open Forum that followed took considerably longer, but it revealed that not only can the BFBB fight its own corner, but it can do so with a passion that can only bode well for its future – if it can get a few more members to join up.

The press, BFBB executive members, Chris Wormald and the two Deepcarr lads asked plenty of questions: All of which brought informed and at times impassioned responses from all the parties concerned.

Not everyone agreed with what was said or proposed – from the criteria used at the current National Youth Championships, to the role and work of the Development Officer, the future of the English National Championships, the need for increased membership and what the BFBB had achieved in respect to its Strategic Plan amongst the topics covered.

Those corners were fought and opinions aired – all conducted with a fair degree of good humour too.

Nearly two hours later and it all came to a close.

The BFBB has its critics, but you can never accuse it of not wanting to debate its future and that of the movement its members here serve so diligently and passionately.

All it needs is more of them.

Iwan Fox


2016   2015   2014   2013   2012
2011   2010   2009   2008   2007
2006   2005   2004 (1)   2004 (2)   2003
2002   2001