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Results: 2012 North of England Regional Championship

North Eastern joy for Felling, Shepherd Group, South Milford, Ripon City & Dunston Silver at Darlington.

North of England


There was a bitter sweet aftertaste to the celebratory drinks in the local pub for Stephen Malcolm on Sunday night.

After leading Felling to the Championship Section title at the Dolphin Centre in Darlington, he certainly enjoyed his first taste of top level Area success with the baton, but it did come with a small caveat, as he told 4BR.

Detail and clarity

"To win with Felling is one of the proudest moments of my musical career. They are an amazing bunch of people with an amazing desire to be successful. In the 20 months I’ve been with them things have rocketed—and all topped off with this result. They deserve every bit of this success."

A performance of detail and clarity gave Felling the Regional Championship Trophy after five years in the top section where they had come increasingly close to reaching the Albert Hall.

Joining them there will be the surprise package of Barton Town, whilst Reg Vardy and EYMS, who between them have won every title since 2002, missed out.


However, Steve’s thoughts were elsewhere too. "I played with Reg Vardy for 25 years and was resident conductor for 12 of them. It would have been the icing on the cake to have won with them second, but it wasn’t to be. The messages of congratulations I’ve had from them though show just what a great band they are. It means a lot to me."

There were further celebrations as the band’s principal cornet Stephen Wilkinson, bass section and euphoniums took well deserved individual awards.

100 years overdue

Instead, on an evening when the shock waves of the result were felt as far as other Area events in Swansea and Stevenage, it was Barton Town that claimed a long overdue return to the National Finals—overdue by 105 years in fact, as Band Manager John Evison told 4BR.

"The last time the Barton name was seen on the programme was in 1907—as Barton Cycle Works, so you can say a return trip has been a long time coming.

We are also the first Lincolnshire band to make it to the finals for exactly 100 years, so we are very proud to consign that to the history books too."

Amazingly the ‘new’ Barton Band was competing in the Fourth Section in 2006. "We’ve risen from the very depths to the Albert Hall in just seven year."

John added. "It’s been an amazing achievement, and we were so lucky that Nick Sheppard was able to come and take us. He’s been wonderful—he just clicked with his calm confidence. It was exactly what we needed on this piece and he will now take us in London."

Wonderful piece of music

Adjudicator David Horsfield was very clear in his pre-results analysis of what sorted out the bands on what he called, ‘a wonderful piece of music’.

The Devil and Deep Blue Sea’ had certainly been a very difficult test he added. "To be successful you have to do more than just play the notes on the score—otherwise it becomes like painting by numbers — they are just a guide.

This piece is much deeper than that. Bands had mishaps, some started poorly and got better and others started well and tailed off. The best had the consistency today and made the music come alive."

Fragile start

Reg Vardy was certainly one band that had a fragile start, although many neutrals still felt that by its close, Dr Nicholas Childs had moulded a winning performance from the reigning champion

It wasn’t to be and for the first time since 2001, Reg Vardy’s name will not appear on the Albert Hall programme.

"We are all very disappointed," Laura Jackson told 4BR. "We felt we did more than enough to qualify, but it wasn’t our day. Our congratulations go to Felling and Barton. We will now concentrate on other major targets for the season."

There was to be no return to Kensington for EYMS either as they ended in fourth place, whilst the remaining top six places went to NASUWT Riverside and Easington Colliery.

To win with Felling is one of the proudest moments of my musical career. They are an amazing bunch of people with an amazing desire to be successfulMD, Stephen Malcolm

First Section:

With just five bands competing in the First Section, adjudicator Mike Kilroy had plenty of opportunity to make his clear cut musical judgements with the quintet of ‘Mountain View’ performance still fresh in his mind.

His impressive pre-results analysis left no one in any doubt about what he was looking for, and why he eventually plumbed for what he called ‘two excellent performances’ from winners Shepherd Group and runner-up Westoe, to make it through to Cheltenham.

Not about technical issues

"This piece has caused a bit of controversy," Mike said.

"However, it’s not about its technical issues. The composers has combined both technique and musicality quite brilliantly for me, so MDs really did have to seek out his vision—even though he’s originally written about it in Swiss French!"

The two bands that certainly did that for him was the York based Shepherd Group, conducted by Richard Wilton and Westoe, directed by Jason Smith. "These were two excellent performances," Mike added.

"The MDs really got the fundamentals right and added that extra musicality of style, balance and shape on top. The overall standard from all five bands was excellent, but these two bands stood out."

Wonderful to be back

Shepherd Group’s Band Manager Charles Wilson told 4BR: "It’s wonderful to be back at the National Finals for the first time since 1999. Richard Wilton and the band worked so hard for this.

We’ve really rebuilt in the last two years, but now we have a thriving organisation with four bands and a full concert diary. We are all thrilled, because the hard work has paid off after coming close in the past few years. I’m now looking to find a hotel to book for Cheltenham!"

Clean sweep

The band also celebrated their win with a clean sweep of the individual prizes, with awards going to the bass, percussion and trombone sections.

The unlucky band to miss out on the Finals was Catterick Brass, directed by Brenden Wheeler who impressed many in the hall with their purposeful account, whilst the remaining places went to Harrogate in fourth and GT Group Peterlee in fifth.

Second Section:

There was a third Area title to celebrate in just five years for South Milford Brass in the Second Section, as conductor Martin Hall led them to Cheltenham courtesy of a performance of ‘Cross Patonce’ described by David Horsfield in his written remarks as containing, ‘many memorable moments; so well controlled by MD’.

They will be joined at Cheltenham by last year’s winners York Railway Institute, who claimed their return ticket courtesy of a purposeful account under the baton of Gordon Eddison.

No problems

David Horsfield had no problem picking out the qualifiers on what he called, ‘a very tough test’.

"It’s a piece with memorable tunes—especially the middle movement," he said. "Even though the 1st & 3rd movements are technically difficult, the music always comes through. The top two really brought that out, especially with the French style in the third movement. Both obviously put in the hard work and played with plenty of style."

Raised roof

"We raised the roof with our celebrations," South Milford’s Claire Bramley told 4BR.

"We’ve really been going from strength to strength since Martin came to the band. He just clicked with us and has that charisma that makes us want to bring the music out in everything we play. We are over the moon and looking forward to making the trip to Cheltenham."

The band also celebrated with additional individual awards for soprano and basses.


With York showing their qualities to ensure they booked their place back for a second successive year, with their euphonium section taking their individual award, the rest of the seven band field found more difficulties with the demanding work.

Cockerton Silver was third, whilst the remaining top six places were taken by Northumbrian Water Ellington Colliery and Murton Colliery.

Third Section:

An outstanding performance from Ripon City that according to Mike Kilroy, ‘stood out a long way’ claimed the Third Section honours on Philip Harper’s cinematic, ‘Olympus’.

It was rendition under the baton of Malcolm Dibb that certainly met the judge’s comprehensive list of criteria; with balance, cohesion, technique and good tuning mixed in with the essential element of musical imagination to take the title and ensure the band head back to Cheltenham for a second successive year.

Terrific performance

"There was one terrific performance," Mike said.

"You have to get the basics right of style, cohesion of delivery, technical issues and tuning—which I must have needed a stamp with intonation written on today. The winners did all of that and used their musical imaginations too—they really created a fine performance. It stood out a long way."

Mike certainly emphasised the need for MDs to use thought processes in creating their performances, especially on pieces such as ‘Olympus’ which set out to tell a filmatic story. "You have got to use your imagination on a work like this to ensure it connects with the audience."


Ripon MD, Malcolm Dibb was obviously delighted that his thoughtful efforts had not only won the title, but had been so well received in the box.

"I’m a bit overwhelmed by Mike’s wonderful remarks," he told 4BR. "There is such a great spirit in the band and with so many young players excited by the Olympics this year, we were able to create the colour and excitement I felt was needed."

The victory was also enhanced by the band’s prize winning percussion section.

That spirit will also see the band start fund raising straight away. "We are a much stronger band now than last year, so we will be confident we can do well at the Finals," Malcolm added.


Joining them there will be Kirkby Lonsdale, after Alan Greenwood led his band on what was their first appearance back at the contest after failing to make it to the starting line last year.

Just missing out on this occasion was the improving Marske Brass, whilst the top six places were taken by Billingham Silver, NASUWT Riverside Concert Brass and Stape Silver.

Fourth Section:

Dunston Silver’s win in the Fourth Section will mean not only a first trip back the National Finals since 2005, but a problem in finding room in their trophy cabinet for the ever increasing amount of silverware they have accumulated since 27 year old Steve Archer has taken over as MD.

The latest is the Regional trophy, which was secured by a performance of ‘English Folk Sing Suite’, which adjudicator Mike Kilroy described as ‘excellent’.

Crammed full

With Louise Wright taking the ‘Best Euphonium’ Award, the cabinet, which used to house just a single trophy dating back to 1905, is now crammed full of eight cups and shields won in the past few months.

"We just had the one old cup there for ages," Band Manager John Lee told 4BR. "Now I may to build another cabinet to fit all the new ones in!"


John will certainly have to do that if the band continues on their remarkable rate of progress.

"Ever since Steve was given the opportunity to show his talents with us we have become a much more focussed and energised band. We are branching out into the local community with concerts and projects and the atmosphere at rehearsals is brilliant."

The win couldn’t have come at a better time either for the band based by the Gateshead Metro Centre.

"It’s our 25th anniversary of being reformed," John added. "My family has six generations of a banding connection, but this is perhaps the most exciting time I can remember in my 56 years with them."

Fine performance

Last year’s runner up Kingsway Printers Cleethorpes booked their return to Cheltenham with a fine performance directed by Steve Askew, whilst Trimdon Concert Brass showed their improving form in coming third.

Mike Kilroy once again ensured that everyone in the hall knew just how he came to his decision—one based on listening to no less than 47 contest performances of the set work this year alone.


"This is wonderful music and a fine choice as a test piece,"he said.

"Bands needed to put together a musical framework of the four basic principles of good brass band playing—breathing, production, flexibility and technique before adding on the artistic frills. A couple did stand out but there were encouraging signs in every performance today."

The final top six places were taken by encouraging debut performances from Jayess Newbiggin and Barton Community, with Cragnead Colliery sixth, with their principal cornet winning the individual award

Full Results:

Additional comments and thoughts on our twitter site:

Championship Section:

Sunday 18th March

Test Piece: 'The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea' — Derek Bourgeois
Adjudicator: David Horsfield

1. Felling (Stephen Malcolm), 4*
2. Barton Town (Nick Sheppard), 6*
3. Reg Vardy (Dr. Nicholas J. Childs), 8
4. East Yorkshire Motor Services (Alan Morrison), 5
5. NASUWT Riverside (Ian Robinson), 3
6. Easington Colliery (Chris Bentham), 7
7. Fishburn (Huw Thomas), 2
8. Kirkbymoorside Town (John Woodward), 1

* Top 2 bands qualify for Finals

Best Soprano: Barton Town
Best Principal Cornet: Felling
Best Bass Section: Felling
Best Percussion Section: Reg Vardy
Best Euphonium: Felling

First Section:

Sunday 18th March

Test Piece: 'Mountain Views' — Bertrand Moren
Adjudicator: Mike Kilroy

1. Shepherd Group (Richard Wilton), 5
2. Westoe (Jason Smith), 3
3. Catterick Brass (Brenden Wheeler), 1
4. Harrogate (Craig Ratcliffe), 2
5. GT Group Peterlee (Joe Cook), 4

* Top 2 bands qualify for Finals

Best Bass Section: Shepherd Group
Best Percussion Section: Shepherd Group
Best Trombone: Shepherd Group

Second Section:

Sunday 18th March

Test Piece: 'Cross Patonce' — Goff Richards
Adjudicator: David Horsfield

1. South Milford Brass (Martin Hall), 3*
2. York Railway Institute (Gordon Eddison), 4*
3. Cockerton Silver (George Nicklin), 1
4. Durham Miners’ Association (David Hirst), 7
5. Northumbrian Water Ellington Colliery (J. Fenwick), 5
6. Murton Colliery (S. Gray), 2
7. Ferryhill Town (S. Norris), 6
withdrawn, Houghton Brass (Ian Langthorne)

* Top 2 bands qualify for Finals

Best Euphonium: York Railway Institute
Best Bass Section: South Milford
Best Soprano: South Milford

Third Section:

Saturday 17th March

Test Piece: 'Olympus' — Philip Harper
Adjudicator: Mike Kilroy

1. Ripon City (Malcolm Dibb), 5*
2. Kirkby Lonsdale (A. Greenwood), 4*
3. Marske Brass (A. Prest), 7
4. Billingham Silver, (Vaughan Evans), 6
5. NASUWT Riverside Concert (Bryan Tait), 1
6. Stape Silver (M. Breckon), 8
7. East Riding of Yorkshire (M. Ryan), 2
8. Backworth Colliery (Duncan Beckley), 3
9. Bearpark & Esh Colliery (A. Hall), 9

* Top 2 bands qualify for Finals

Best Percussion Section: Ripon City

Fourth Section:

Saturday 17th March

Test Piece: 'English Folk Song Suite' — Ralph Vaughan Williams
Adjudicator: Mike Kilroy

1. Dunston Silver, (S. Archer), 11*
2. Kingsway Printers Cleethorpes (S. Askew), 8*
3. Trimdon Concert Brass (J. Robson), 5
4. Jayess Newbiggin Band (Andrew Griffiths), 2
5. Barton Community Band (Gary Oglesby), 6
6. Craghead Colliery (B. Wright), 4
7. Swinton & District Excelsior (N. Sutherland),9
8. Stanhope Silver (Steve Robson), 3
9. Burneside Brass (L. Johnston), 10
10. Spennymoor Town (J. Davidson), 1
11. Knaresborough Silver (S. Morland), 7

* Top 2 bands qualify for Finals

Best Principal Cornet: Craghead Colliery
Best Euphonium: Dunston Silver


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