Derek began playing the cornet at the age of 10. He became a member of the school band and subsequently the City of Sheffield Youth Brass Band. Further invitations followed, including the Yorkshire Youth Brass Band and the Sheffield Recreation Band. Members of Dereks family had associations with the 'Sheffield Rec' (as they were fondly know) for many years and when at the age of 13 he was accepted into the band, it was a dream come true. Derek 'worked' his way through the ranks to become principal cornet of the Sheffield Recreation Band at the age of 16 — however the name had now been changed to the City of Sheffield Band. It was during this time that Derek accepted an invitation to join the Grimethorpe Colliery Band and play amongst some of the finest players in the country. However, living away from home as a teenager took it's toll and Derek returned to the 'end chair' back at Sheffield, a position he held for 11 years. In 1983 however, Derek felt the need for change and accepted a call from Rockingham Colliery Band to fill the vacant principal chair. During the next twelve months, the band enjoyed four contest wins and Derek was twice awarded 'Best Instrumentalist' along with a most successful tour in Germany.
1984 was to be a major step in Dereks 'banding career' when he made the move to the Yorkshire Imperial Metals Band. Working under the direction of such musicians as Ray Farr, Major Peter Parkes, Geoffrey Brand and James Scott had an enormous influence on Dereks musical career and it was around this time that he seriously moved into conducting — whilst still playing with the band! During his five years with the band, he enjoyed success on Cornet, Flugel Horn and finally Solo Horn and had travelled extensively around Europe appearing on Radio, TV and numerous recordings. Dereks conducting career had already taken off, having directed the Oughtibridge Band, Holme Silver Band, Dodworth Colliery Band and Stannington Band when in 1998 he accepted the position of Musical Director to the Stocksbridge Band. During this time, Derek had enjoyed many contest wins but none 'sweeter' than the 1st Section Area competitions in Yorkshire on two consecutive occasions. However, the ultimate prize was directing the band to win the National Championships of Great Britain (1st Section) and put the band back in their rightful home of the Championship Section!
Another milestone in the bands history was when Derek led the band to 2nd place behind Brighouse & Rastrick at the Yorkshire area, qualifying to play at the National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall. After another break from the banding scene, Derek returned to the City of Sheffield Band ( now Unite The Union) in March 2011. Further success followed with a 2nd place at Blackpool — British Open qualifying sections. In 2012. Derek led the band to win the 1st Section Yorkshire area for the 3rd time, once again qualifying for the National Finals, this time in Cheltenham. This turned to to be one of the bands most historic and emphatic wins and were once again, crowned Champion Band of Great Britain, gaining promotion to the Championship Section from 2013.