Woodward Ė Bandmaster
A sell out concert of the Kirkbymoorside Town Brass Band. Saturday Night has raised over £2000.00 for the Ryedale District Council Chairmanís Charities. There was mixed emotions on the evening as the concert also marked the last of the bandís resident Musical Director John Woodward. The Concert saw Mayors and council chairís from across North Yorkshire, as well as MP Kevin Hollinrake supporting Bob Gardner the Ryedale District Council Chair in aid of Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Ryedale Charities Together (Acorn Community Care,Helmsley Walled Garden,Next Steps,Ryedale Carers Support,Ryedale Community Transport (RYECAT),Ryedale Special Families,Sight Support Ryedale)
The Concert was a huge success, but mixed emotions because whilst the band had no wish to see John hanging up his baton, it was also to celebrate Johnís efforts and recognise the bandís achievements during his time in the middle.
John was awarded the Kirkbymoorside Community Award by Kirkbymoorside Mayor Angus Ashworth and Life Membership of the band in recognition of his work. Kirkbymoorside Band is very much a local ďtown bandĒ that relies heavily upon the generous support of the townsfolk and wider Ryedale community. This little market town of around 3,000 inhabitants on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors is rightly proud of its town band, which now supports a teaching effort that brings in well over 100 musicians of all abilities through the bandroom doors each week. Most of the senior band players learned to play with the band and have never played with another band. John Woodward is just as much a product of the bandís heritage and community endeavour as any of the players.
His father had played for the band and John learned to play the tenor horn under Les Maw in 1958. He joined the senior band in 1959 aged 12, but then his working career took him to Leeds where he joined the Kippax Old Band in 1970. He re-joined the Kirkbymoorside Band in 1974, since when he has played solo trombone, bass trombone, euphonium, baritone and solo horn. Not only was he a key player for the band but he also took up the post of Junior Bandmaster in 1974. In that role for the next 18 years he taught the next generation of bandsmen.
In 1992 John took over as Musical Director from Philip Carter and has developed and improved the band. It is under Johnís leadership that the senior band has achieved its highest competitive success and has managed to maintain a consistently high standard. In 2009 John was awarded The Diploma of Honour by the Worshipful Company of Musicians in recognition of his work with the band. John Sails (Principal Cornet and Band Trustee) explained, "John has always understood the importance of teaching youngsters and many of the current senior band were taught by him and played under him in the Junior Band. To complement his senior band success there has also been a huge expansion in the numbers of beginners and learners in recent years and the band has developed four different teaching bands to accommodate players as they develop their musical skills."
Johnís wife Carol has worked tirelessly in supporting John and the band over the years and the couple have three sons, Philip, Andrew and John Michael, all of whom play in the senior band. John has also seen the next generation of the Woodward family progressing through the ranks of the band with five of his grandchildren currently playing from beginner level through to the Senior Band. Carol was awarded Life Membership of the band on Saturday to mark her contribution.
The band is already planning for the future though. Sarah Woodward, Johnís daughter-in-law will move from the Soprano chair to wield the baton for the Senior Band. Other changes within the band to accommodate this will see Jeanette Kendal moving to Principal Cornet and John Sails moving to Soprano cornet. Sarah and Jeanette along with Ben Smailes currently lead the bandís teaching efforts and will be joined by Emma Smailes who will take over leadership of the adult Community Band. Johnís retirement will therefore see women taking many of the lead roles within the band. Trombonist Lindsey Flintoft said, "We are delighted that Sarah is taking over. It is such an exciting time. We will be so sorry to see an end to Johnís leadership as conductor, but knowing that he is with us all the way will make us even prouder to play for Sarah."One thing is certain. Kirkbymoorside Band will continue as it has for over 200 years to be a very strong community based town band. The formula is still working for the band in the 21st century just as it did in the 19th.
Many have pondered what John will do with his time following his retirement from conducting. However, John will continue to be a band trustee and committee member, and the immediate future will see him leading the bandís ambitious plans to construct a 200 seat concert hall extension to the bandís headquarters in Manor Vale. Planning consent has been secured as has funding, so once the legal framework for land transfers has been secured, construction work will begin.
Exciting times ahead await the band and, in his ďretirementĒ, John Woodward too