Editorial ~ 2010: January


This month we give our opinions on Stan the Man; Arsene Wenger - brass band adjudicator, and praise the politicians and performers of Gwent.

Stan the Man

The Association of Brass Band Adjudicators has been under the cosh of late, not helped it must be said by being perceived as a reactive rather than proactive organisation.

The election of Stan Lippeatt as its new Chairman should therefore be welcomed – as should the news that a number of people with recent or current top level contesting experience have been voted onto its executive committee.

ABBA has realised that not only must it change as an organisation for the benefit of its own membership, but also that it must reposition itself to lead progressive change to the brass band movement as a whole.

And led by the former Grimethorpe flugel player, it has no better hard working figurehead to do just that.

There is much more to Stan Lippeatt than meets the eye – his work in securing the involvement of Butlins in resurrecting the Mineworkers Contest has shown just that.

He is fair and plain speaking, doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and has ambitious, but realistic aims and objectives for ABBA to meet in the years to come.

The litmus test will be his ability to drive through those aims and objectives – sometimes alienating a few of his own members in the process.

ABBA cannot continue to be perceived as just a ‘lazy contest promoters telephone directory’. It now has the opportunity to become a driving force for the benefit of the banding movement as a whole in the next decade and more – and Stan Lippeatt is the man who can provide the lead in them doing just that.

We wish him well.

What do you think?
Send an email to:

Arsene Wenger - brass band adjudicator

The news that at least one current Championship Section conductor and one active Championship level player are lined up to adjudicate in the top section at the Areas this year will surely raise a few eyebrows as well as a few pointed questions in bandrooms in certain quarters once again.

According to details released by the organisers, Dr Robert Childs of Cory is due to judge the top bands at the Midlands Area with David Read, whilst Black Dyke’s Brett Baker is due to the same with Chris Wormald in Scotland.

Both are men and musicians of integrity, but why on earth would either allow themselves to be placed in such an invidious position?

It’s like asking Arsene Wenger to referee a Premiership match between Manchester United and Chelsea or Steven Gerrard to pick the Tottenham Hotspur team to face Aston Villa.

Would Cory, or the rest of top section Welsh banding for that matter, really be happy if their regional committee decided to ask a rival top flight MD to come and judge at Swansea? 

Would Black Dyke, or the rest of Yorkshire’s top bands be smiling if their regional committee decided to go with a couple of players from Fodens or Leyland in the box come ‘English Heritage’.

We think not.

Last year, ABBA Chairman, Derek Broadbent, expressed his opinion that it was not appropriate for a perceived conflict of interest to arise after Steven Sykes judged at Bradford with Nigel Boddice only to then take a top section band with the same judge in the box, a week later.

Steve Sykes, Robert Childs and Brett Baker are musicians who should be used more often as adjudicators at brass band contests, but surely not at ones where their reputations and professional judgement could very well be called into question.

There are plenty of other judges who can be used on these occasions without a potentially damaging conflict of interest arising, and plenty of time for organisers to ensure that they don’t put the likes of Bob and Brett amongst others, in such a position to start with.

What do you think?
Send an email to:

In praise of politicians and players

The Greater Gwent Youth Band recently celebrated its 50th anniversary – a remarkable achievement in anyone’s book.

More remarkable however was the fact that for the past 50 years, local politicians in the old county council area of Monmouthshire (which became Gwent and then morphed into the unitary authorities of Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent, Newport and Monmouth) have continued to ensure that the children of South East Wales have been able to access a properly funded peripatetic music service through their schools.

It has meant that literally thousands of youngsters have at some time (both 4BR editors included) been able to benefit from individual brass tuition each week from well paid tutors who have been able to concentrate on quality rather than the quantity of pupils to pay their wages.

It has also meant that young players have been able to develop their skills through courses and tours and exposure to top class performers and conductors without ever having to badger their parents into stumping up yet more additional fees for the privilege.

At the celebration concert over 120 performers played on stage – from the new generation of youngsters, through to the current talented crop of performers and even a Reunion Band of former members going back all of those 50 years, and still enjoying the brass playing experience, first imbued in them when they started being taught all those years ago.

Some achievement indeed, and one that everyone concerned – the local politicians included who have continued to vote for it, can look back on with a great deal of pride.

What do you think?
Send an email to: