.... before I depart London and the south for a new life with my other half on the Isle of Arran. Now that we have this marvellous forum in full swing, I'd like to take this opportunity to say goodbye and 'thanks for having me' to a number of brass bands who I've been involved with over the years, in case I don't see you before I go. This may seem a bit previous, but I'd only forget otherwise, what with me having a memory like a........ like....... um....... like a...... er......... what's that phrase? ;-) In what I believe to be chronological order Crystal Palace Band. My very first brass band, which I joined in 1979 and stayed with for 20 years, being invited to conduct them for one of those years. With the finest musician (Mike Gray) I have ever met at their helm (and believe me, I've met some fine musicians in my time!) as he has been since 1987, their future is assured. Legendary foreign trips, frequent contest and concert successes and tip top organisation, I can't thank them enough for giving me the brass band 'buzz' to start off with. Fulham Brass Band. I conducted this band for 6 years through some tricky times, numbers wise, but it's great to see it flourishing and even qualifying for the National finals, something it had never done before. I left, came back, then left.... but such is the amazing friendship of this band, no matter which personnel come and go, the pull of the 'magnet' was too hard to resist. So I came back again! Under its present MD Paul McLaughlin, the band's fortunes have risen rapidly, from just missing out on the finals in his first year to achieving it the year after. The off-shoot group (The Brass Ramblers) have raised in excess of £20,000 for Cancer Research UK over the years and.... well.... there ain't nothing like 'em! Epsom and Ewell Band My first full band conducting experience outside Crystal Palace Band. (Fulham at the time were very short of numbers!) A fine and friendly bunch who put up with me though with hindsight, my lack of experience showed and I wasn't quite ready for them at the time. It didn't last long but I thank them for their patience and I'd like to think the experience benefited me in the long run and they even had the decency to ask me to dep for them conducting for two jobs after I left. Croydon Brass Band In the days when tMP member MRSH was at the helm, he reguarly asked me to dep for him and the band over a period of many years and in his last years there, asking me to day tranfer on sop in local contests despite the fact even to this day, I say I'll never be a sop player as long as I have a hole in my (ahem!) Thank you MRSH and Mrs MRSH (Aardvark) for giving me all that extra banding experience, both as player and conductor, and thank you to the band in general for having me as a temporary MD recently. Becontree Brass Band Due to a contact at the WMA Summer School, of which I'm the brass band tutor, I was asked to take a rehearsal for this band a few years back, which subsequently led to me being asked to take the band for a SCABA contest in Folkestone, where the band won a couple of prizes and I got my first and only conductors' prize! They were national 3rd section at the time. I said then to their bass trombonist-until-recently that I felt they had the talent to get to the 1st section. He didn't believe me then, but that's where they are now! A fabulous band of characters and again, thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn and further my conducting experience. Waltham Forest Co-Op/East London Brass Waltham Forest Co-Op as was, they changed their name to East London brass a few years back. Whatever their name is/was, another band who furthered my playing and conducting experience. From the days when Sue Murrill was everything from conductor, secretary and general organiser (which she did so well, you would have thought there was a highly trained committee of people doing it!), she was the band's conductor for 17 years and I felt humble and deeply honoured to be asked to conduct the special CD the band (with friends from Epping Forest amongst others - another band I'd like to say 'thank you' to!) secretly put together to give to her after she left for distant climes after 17 years' wonderful service. The band happily continues to flourish under its present director Steve Earley and I have no doubt they will continue to do so. Yiewsley and West Drayton Band Though I've known of this band for some years now, this was probably the first band I got some more playing and conducting experience from through tMP! Another band on the up and up with an excellent MD in Christopher Cole and great to have the opportunity to meet fellow tMP-ers WhatSharp? HBB and David Walton as well as bumping into old friends such as Clayton MacLean, Ian Carter and Sharon and John Ide, they very quickly made me welcome and even put up with my rather trumpety cornet tone! Another band who's future is doubtless secure with the players and MD they have. I genuinely fancy them to win the 2nd section areas on Variations for Brass Band. I honestly think they have the band to do it! Sandhurst Silver Band The most recent 'new' banding experience, having been asked to guest for them at a recent SCABA Entertainment contest, another band enjoying a very good run of contest results both at local and national level, and their playing reflects the confidence that a series of good results can bring. Roger Burke is the man at the helm and his deep understanding of music and the reperoire is a vital element in the band's continuing success. Friary Guildford Band I thank them, but boy, I still think they're mad! Through a colleague in the days when both of us played with Crystal Palace Band, I finally got, this summer, the opportunity not only for my first experience with a championship section band but thrown in the deep end on sop! (Why, I'll never know!) Yet again, a band whose stock has risen and risen over the years and again, their playing, on a bandstand job in Guildford when I depped for them showed the confidence and musicianship a successful ensemble can bring. Through this I had the pleasure of meeting another tMP-er in Accidental! I have other thank yous to make before I go, but these are the bands that have given me my opportunities in a performing capacity over the years and whom I'm going to miss when I go! Thank you all and apologies if I've left any bands out.