First Cornet

  • Darren Lee
  • Ross Cooper

See Katherine Cooper (Flugel)

  • Amy Chapman
  • Edward Cooper

See Katherine Cooper (Flugel)

Soprano Cornet

  • Malcolm Lee

On joining Cholsey Silver as a 9 year old in 1961 I was handed a Soprano to try out, a few days later I was given a Bb cornet. I returned to playing a Soprano after I joined Egham three years later and once I had my own transport, returned to Cholsey on Soprano. I eventually left Cholsey and joined Sandhurst Silver on Bb cornet and stayed with them for the next 25 years mostly as Principal Cornet. During this time I also joined the MillsTones Dance Band on 1st Trumpet and after 25 years with both bands decided to bid farewell to Brass Bands to concentrate, for the next 15 years, on the music of the Big Bands. A recent move to Honiton with my wife Loraine has given me the opportunity of returning to the Brass Band world with OSM and I’m really enjoying getting familiar with the Soprano again and performing with a great bunch of people.

Repiano Cornet

  • Ian Summerscales

I was born on April 23rd 1965 in Hyde Cheshire, a short bus ride on the 340 Service to Stalybridge and the world’s oldest brass band- Stalybridge Old Band, first formed in 1814.

Fortunately, I moved down to Devon and Exeter when I was three, so I never got to play with the band let alone get to Stalybridge.

My parents weren’t musical, but music was always a big part of mine and my 3 sister’s upbringing. We all learnt the recorder first, I can remember playing the bass whilst my sisters played treble and descant recorders.

We entered the Exeter Music Festival in the 70’s held at the Barnfield Theatre, where we achieved great success………….I think.

I had swimming lessons on a Saturday morning with my dad, while my sisters played in the recorder section of the Exeter Children’s Orchestra. I have a memory of being taken along to the AGM aged 10 when my dad offered to become treasurer, thus ending my swimming lessons and the start of my musical career.

I was encouraged to join the percussion section, where I played the bass drum enthusiastically.

In 1977 I attended secondary school, I started having trumpet lessons and my parents bought me my first trumpet for £150.00, from Bill Greenhalgh’s music shop.

I was having trumpet lessons at school and I joined the school wind band, it wasn’t long before I joined the brass section of the Exeter Children’s Orchestra where my sisters had progressed to playing in the woodwind and string sections.

The orchestra was well supported, and I remember Alf Richards the then secretary of the Exeter British Rail Band who invited me to join their band, I was only 14 years old.

I started on 3rd cornet and moved on to 2nd quite quickly, then it was encouraged that I should play soprano.

Not realising the change from B flat to E flat, it took me quite some time (28 years) to get used to the change of pitch. I played soprano for the next 30 years during which time the band changed its name to its current name The City of Exeter Railway Band.

It was around 2009 when the band started contesting that I realized that the soprano wasn’t for me and returned to B flat cornet, playing 2nd cornet and then Repiano.

I was working for myself in 2012 when I got a letter from Brian Baker asking if I would like to join The Ottery St Mary Silver Band.

At that time and for the next year I played for both bands Tuesday in Exeter and Thursday in Ottery on Repiano until late 2013 when I left the Railway Band and devoted my time to the amazing OSMSB.

The rest as they say…………… history!

2nd / 3rd Cornets

  • Debbie Cheeseman

I started my love of brass bands in 1978 when I was 10yrs old in Bodmin, Cornwall.  My local junior school required every student to learn a new instrument by attending the secondary school one afternoon a week in their final year. I was already a recorder player and a fun fact for you is it became my prime instrument and I later went on to pass grade 8!  So, it seemed an obvious choice for me to choose the clarinet as my next instrument.  However, my friend had decided on the tenor horn and asked me to accompany her to Bodmin Town Band practice room to pick it up. While we were there the conductor turned to me and asked me what I had chosen to play and when I said the clarinet there were roars of laughter from all the scary men there!  Not deterred he shoved a flugal horn in my hand and told me to practice it every day and to return to band next week.  I must say I loved that week, every chance I had I picked it up and played it.  When I went back the following week I asked if I could also join the band, but preferably not with an instrument which felt so odd to hold! Smiling broadly, he duly gave me a cornet and said I’d made the right choice as clarinets sounded awful!

Having been lucky enough start out with a championship section band I was constantly treated to beautifully well played music and it certainly cemented my love of the brass band world. A few years later my family moved to Somerset and I joined Shepton Mallet Town Band which brought me straight back down to earth and where I mostly learnt to wince whilst playing!  But I enjoyed many years playing with them on 1st cornet and also conducted them for nearly a year while they were in between better conductors than me!  At the same time I joined Glastonbury Town Band which at the time was conducted by none other than Charlie Fleming (Lympstone Band fame).  As Glastonbury was mostly made up of Royal Marine bandsmen, I often got invited to play gigs with them at summer fetes when they were a player short on front row, which was an amazing experience.   My claim to fame with Glastonbury was being filmed by the BBC for a day for a simply dreadful sitcom called ‘L for Lester’ where the lead character was our conductor for the show. I wouldn’t advise you to look it up!

In 1983 I played at a massed band event with Glastonbury Band, Shepton Mallet Town Band and my school concert band and I was the only player there that evening that played in all three.  The solo cornet players from all the bands were chosen to play ‘ Three Jolly Sailormen’. I played the second part of this exciting trio piece which was great fun, but I’ve never heard since.  Playing lead soloist that day was Graeme Lewis better known for playing with the  Sun Life Band. He once took me to the Sun Life practice rooms in Bristol which was an amazing place, but at that time women were banned from entering – how times have changed! Although this was commonplace for Champion section bands back then.  In fact, when I played for Bodmin, the women and girls in the band were not allowed on the bus for contesting and there was a large poster in the band room to remind us!

During my glory days when I could actually play competently on 1st cornet, I also played with Saltash Band, St. Breward Silver Band and Lympstone SW Comms. I then took many years off when my nursing shifts got in the way from playing but I returned again to SW Comms, this time happily on 2nd or 3rd cornet!   I had another long stint away from playing while Millie was young but when we moved to Ottery in 2017 I couldn’t wait to start playing again. I can’t tell you how delighted I was when the Ottery St Mary Silver Band accepted me so readily into the band, despite my poor technique and out of condition lip that couldn’t last one march!   To have Millie play in the same band with me gives me more joy than you can possibly know. Of course, with my banding history that poor girl was always destined to play a brass instrument, but I must say she’s really got the brass band bug too!

  • Martha H

My name is Martha and I started playing the cornet at the age of 7 with the dream of playing the trombone but at that age I wasn’t strong enough. I am now grade 4 on the cornet and am lucky enough to be 1st cornet in Brass Class. Also I was offered to join the Ottery St Mary Silver Band that I aspired to be in. I was so excited and although the rehearsal ended late I was happy to stay up because I enjoyed it so much. I am now the youngest member of the band and love it. I have also been able to start playing the trombone and hope one day I will be good enough to play trombone in the band.