Les Maw BEM 1923 – 2014

It is with great sadness that Kirkbymoorside Town Brass Band have to report the loss of our longtime friend and mentor Leslie Maw. Les passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday 20th May 2014 whilst listening to recorded music.  

It is hard to put into words just what a hugely influential role Les Maw had within the Kirkbymoorside Town Brass Band. Without Les, few feel that this little market town on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors would have the band that it does today, with over 100 active musicians, a senior band that flits between Championship and 1st Section status, and a self sustaining support structure within the local community that bodes well for the future.
Les first joined the Kirkbymoorside Band at the age of 9 when he started playing the cornet. His father moved to the North East in the early thirties to find work and for a brief time Les and his father played with the Brancepeth Colliery Band. After a short period the family moved back to Kirkbymoorside and in the mid-thirties Les settled into the Solo Cornet team, a position he was to hold until 1952.

Les was appointed Bandmaster on 30th January 1952 when, in those post war years the band had become a struggling musical ensemble with just a handful of players. Les coaxed and cajoled during the early lean years and gradually took the band into the fourth section and eventually all the way up through into the top section with some memorable contest results along the way.

In those early years Les had the vision and recognised the need to create a junior band to encourage youngsters to play brass instruments. Through his drive and motivation he trained youngsters from scratch and formed a successful junior band. Les was a great inspirational teacher, a competent cornet player, trombonist and percussionist. In the early 1980’s the band reached its highest ranking under Les’ leadership. When performing the controversial test piece “Images” in 1983, the band came third at the regional contest. Despite great celebrations by the band on the day it had actually narrowly missed out on a trip to the Royal Albert Hall for the top section finals of the National Brass Band Championship.

After thirty six years Les finally retired as Bandmaster in 1988 but continued to teach players, young and not so young, and was still giving lessons to a few players up until the last week of his life. His vision all those years ago continues today.

It was a fitting tribute that on his retirement he was awarded the British Empire Medal in recognition of his long and devoted service. To mark his retirement the Band made an amendment to its constitution to create the post of Musical Director, a position that he held until, at his request, he retired from the post in 2005.

Most of the players within the ranks of the current senior band can be grateful for the hands-on support and encouragement that Les continued to provide long into his retirement. So, it was with great warmth and affection that the band joined with his family and friends for Les’ 90th birthday celebrations in October last year. Of course, Les had to conduct the band and we all enjoyed his direction through the hymn tune Bradford, which Les had transcribed for the band many years back.

Les had remained active throughout his life, he was passionate about the band and attended almost every concert, his enthusiasm and appetite for banding never waned and even of late he could still be found at the bandroom at most senior band rehearsals.

Thank you Les.

The Kirkbymoorside Town Brass Band remains your lasting and ever grateful legacy.

John Woodward on behalf of Kirkbymoorside Town Brass Band