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Eb Bass
BBb Bass
David Richards
Eb Bass
David Stokes
David Stokes_edited.jpg

David has played with a number of leading bands in the Midlands, London and South of England. His musical roots are with The Salvation Army and he was for many years a member of the renowned Chalk Farm Band. Upon leaving full time education he joined Royal Air Force Music Services and was a member of the Royal Air Force Central Band for 12 years. During this time he travelled the world on playing tours to such places as the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, Scandinavia and most countries in Western Europe.


On one memorable occasion he was with the Central Band in Jordan and found himself, along with his colleagues, in a broken down bus in the middle of the desert waiting for rescue whilst a flock of vultures circled overhead! Closer to home, David has been a member of Rigid Containers Group Band, William Davis Construction Group Band, Redbridge Brass and First City Brass. He is an Associate of the Royal College of Music, Fellow of the London College of Music and has a B Ed in Music Education. 

BBb Bass
Nigel Simmons

David was born in High Wycombe, Bucks. He started to play the tuba at the tender age of 12, when the BBb tuba was almost as tall as he was. He took to playing the tuba like a duck to water and within 3 months he had taken his first Associated Board performance exam, progressing though to Grade 8 within two and a half years. During this period, he played with many local bands and orchestras, including Bucks County Youth Orchestra, and also passed the audition for the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, where he attended 4 courses.


In 1981 David joined the Royal Air Force and after 3 months in the RAF School of Music at Uxbridge, he was posted to the Western Band at RAF Locking, just outside Weston Super Mare. The highlight of his 3-year tour was his first trip to Hong Kong. In 1984 he was posted to the Central Band where he stayed for over 23 years, being promoted through the ranks and becoming principal tuba and drum major. On the 26th December 1991 he left the UK to go out to the Gulf for a three-month stint in Bahrain as a medic. This was the first time that RAF musicians had been posted to a war zone since WW2. David continued to progress through the ranks, becoming Flight Sergeant Training, where he was in charge of all aspects of CPD training for the 120 RAF musicians, and Senior Drum Major, taking charge of drill and ceremonial for the Festival of Remembrance and Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. On promotion to Warrant Officer he spent 3 years at RAF Cranwell, which included a 6-month tour in Afghanistan, as the RAF Regiment Band Bandmaster. He was posted back to RAF Northolt in 2012 as Bandmaster Central Band. A highlight during his last few years was taking the Band of the RAF Regiment on parade with the Yeoman of the Guard at Buckingham Palace in front of Her Majesty the Queen. A first for any RAF band.


He has won many awards for his compositions and arrangements, winning the Studio Music Award for best arrangement for two consecutive years. On his promotion to Warrant Officer he was awarded the Worshipful Company of Musicians Silver Medal for being the bests student on the Bandmaster course. He also gained the award of Graduate of the City and Guilds of London for his management skills.


David has performed with many of the leading UK orchestras including the BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and Halle Orchestras and has travelled extensively throughout the world during his 36-year career in the RAF. He retired from RAF in 2016 as and is currently a Civil Servant occupying the post of Voluntary Band Instructor at RAF Halton, near Aylesbury. He is looking forward to performing in the top flight with Friary after spending three years as principal BBb bass with Wantage band.

Nigel was born and bred in East Sussex, England. Having started piano lessons at the age of 9, he then took up the tuba at the age of 13 with the Hastings Youth Band. It obviously agreed with him! He was promoted into the senior band, Sussex Brass within 4 months. Almost immediately, he started composing and arranging for band, a pastime which he has continued to the present day. He spent three years at the Royal College of Music, from 1974 – 1977, and then returned to the South East, as a freelance semi-pro Tuba player, as well as returning to Sussex Brass, this time in the capacity of Musical Director.


Other spells as Musical Director followed, taking Handcross Brass to the Championship Section, and Uckfield Concert Brass to the First Section.


In addition to his brass band activities, and his freelance tuba playing, he is also well known throughout the south east as a jazz tuba player (a rarity nowadays). He produces arrangements for Harvey’s Brass, a ten piece ensemble based on the same instrumentation as the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, run and directed by Peter Harvey of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Sussex Trombone Ensemble, which utilises between 8 and 15 trombones.


Nigel now lives in High Wycombe, and has played with the Friary for over a decade.


He is arranger-in-residence for the Sussex Symphony Orchestra, as well as producing music for all sorts of differing ensembles, including Brass quintets and Tuba sextets.


Well known for being able to produce arrangements at the drop of a hat, his fastest achievement was producing a complete arrangement, in less than one hour, of “The Star Spangled Banner” for a German Symphonic Wind Band who had mislaid their copy!!!


Although music is a hobby, it is a way of life to him, and the advent of music writing programs has finally meant there is more room in the house, without manuscripts all over the place!


Eb Bass
Ben Miller
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Ben is currently taking a sabbatical from the band.

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