Dennis Abbotts 1939-2010

Discussion in 'Obituaries' started by Shipston Town Band, May 6, 2010.

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  1. Shipston Town Band

    Shipston Town Band New Member

    Shipston Town Band are sad to announce the death of one of their longest serving members, Dennis Abbotts, who passed away in the Ellen Badger Hospital Shipston on Stour on Tuesday 4th May three days after his 71st birthday. Dennis was well known around all the local bands and also in the wider brass band scene where he regularly attended the concert and contest performances of both Sellers Engineering and Carlton Main Frickley Colliery where his daughter Kirsty was Principal Cornet.

    Dennis began his brass band career at Brailes Silver Band, his local village some 3 miles from Shipston. He was taught by Sam Bryan, the band’s baritone player. In Dennis’s words the teaching was somewhat rudimentary and encompassed the C Major scale and a few sharps and flats before he was told that he was in the band and that now he was on his own. Basic it may have been but it stood Dennis in good stead and he served Brailes Band loyally for 13 years. In 1964 Shipston Band found themselves without a First Baritone player. Bert Smith, the band’s Conductor announced that he had identified the replacement as there was a young lad at Brailes who would fit the bill. Dennis was approached and joined Shipston Band on First Baritone and began 46 years unbroken service to the band.

    Dennis remained as 1st Baritone for 9 years and also served the band as secretary during this period. In 1973 the band found itself without any trombone players and Dennis was asked if he would take on the Solo Trombone. Despite the fact that he had no idea how to play a trombone, Dennis agreed and began a love affair with the trombone which lasted on and off for the next 36 years. This move was typical of the dedication and commitment to the band shown by Dennis throughout his life always displaying a willingness to do whatever was best for the band even if it meant he had to change instruments or move up or down the line or even stand down from the contest band. He always put the band first.

    During the 1970s, Dennis saw that the future of Shipston Band lay in a successful youth policy. He formed Shipston Junior Band and built it to full band strength such that it could enter local competitions. A number of years after the band had been formed his daughter Kirsty showed an interest in learning the cornet and Dennis was so proud as Kirsty graduated through the ranks of the Junior Band into the Senior Band where she became Principal Cornet into the National Youth Brass Band where she played Solo Cornet, onto her studies at Huddersfield and her career as Principal Cornet with Sellers Engineering and then Carlton Main Frickley Colliery. One of the highlights of his period as Conductor of the Junior Band was a trip to Shipston’s twin town of Torigny sur Vire in Normandy in October 1985 where the band performed concerts in the town.

    In 1978 the band qualified for the National Finals 4th Section and once again Dennis showed his dedication to the band when he offered to play bass trombone as the band found itself without one even though he could not even read bass clef. In 1988, once again the band qualified in section 3. Dennis had the chance to run the London Marathon on the same day as the Area Championships. As the band had three other trombonists, he took part and completed the course and then was most insistent that he would not compete in the finals, the three others were to keep their positions.
    1989 saw another qualification this time as Champions and with his daughter Kirsty playing Principal Cornet for the last time making Dennis a very proud father.

    Dennis also served the band regularly as a conductor. When the conductor of the day was unavailable or late who would stand in but Dennis. Frequently this developed into Dennis standing in at short notice for concerts or bandstand engagements. Dennis never complained and filled in the role willingly no matter how short the notice was. When the band was without a regular conductor, Dennis took over and filled the void. conducting the full range of engagements . Dennis maintained an interest in the band’s interesting history and delivered a number of talks and lectures to local groups on the subject.

    2008 found the band without any bass players and in a position of crisis so Dennis once again offered to change instruments and took on the key role of Bb Bass at an age when many players are winding down. True to form Dennis didn’t just fill the seat but was determined to do the best job he could manage and regularly came down to the band room to practice. Not satisified with his own efforts he packed his bass into his car and drove up to Yorkshire to seek the help of Carlton Main Frickley Colliery’s Bb Bass player Ray Sykes. The band were all very impressed at the sheer dedication and the level of performance which Dennis achieved.

    This year saw the band win the 4th Section Midland Area Title. It was a source of great sadness to the band that Dennis was not well enough to compete. Conductor Howard Gibbs stressed in the last rehearsal that this was one for Dennis and the band duly obliged. Dennis was the first to be phoned and was predictably overjoyed with the result.

    It is very much an understatement to say that the band will miss Dennis terribly. Here was a bandsman’s bandsman who gave unstintingly of his time and energy frequently putting the band before other interests he and Margaret had. It is a true reflection of his nature that in one of our last conversations, he was really pleased that two of our juniors had moved on to bass. A 9 year old Eb player and a 10 year old Bb player. Both are making excellent progress and if they show the commitment, dedication and effort which Dennis showed, they won’t go far wrong.

    The funeral will take place at St Edmund’s Church, Church Street Shipston on Friday May 14th at 2 p.m.

    David Birch
    Band Secretary
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2010
  2. battybarit

    battybarit Member

    In Remembrance of Dennis Abbott

    I attended Dennis's funeral yesterday and was privileged to play in the massed band that turned out in his honour. Over forty players, as far as I could tell, representing several different bands, did the honours, and the entire service was highly moving. For those of us who knew Dennis mainly in his role as a bandsman, it was enlightening to hear of his other activities, to which he also gave many years of dedicated service. Although I knew that Dennis was a keen runner, I was completely unaware of the extent of his activities in this respect.

    The church was packed with all those who wanted to remember Dennis and to bear witness to his passing. All the speeches given in remembrance of Dennis were moving, especially that given by his brother, who shared with us his memories of Dennis as a young boy, the scrapes he got himself into, and the adventures he had on his way to maturity. For those of us who only got to know Dennis in his later years this was not only informative but highly entertaining!

    I remember Dennis as a kind and thoughtful man; someone who, in his quiet and unassuming manner, always had the time to say 'Hello' or to enquire about how you were doing. At a time of great illness and distress in my own life, I remember Dennis, as a group of us stood outside the Corn Exchange in Cambridge, being particularly kind to me and offering just the right note of support. Even when I last saw him, at the Leamington Contest 2009, and despite the evident pain he was suffering, we exchanged a few words and at no point did he complain about his illness or discomfort.

    Dennis is a loss not only to his family, but to all of us. He was a brick.

    Val Trim
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