Lauren Straker

Lauren started playing the cornet at the age of seven and took part in her first ‘Area contest' at the age of 8, with Tilbury Band. She went on to make her Principal Cornet contest debut at aged ten, playing Indian Summer with Thurrock Spectrum Brass. At the age of twelve Lauren became the youngest ever winner of Thurrock Musician of the Year, and began studying trumpet and piano at the Junior Guildhall School of Music. In 2004 Lauren was promoted to Principal Cornet of the Junior Guildhall Brass Band, which she maintained for her two remaining years at Guildhall, and was awarded the coveted ‘Brass Prize’ in her final year. Studying at Junior Guildhall provided many memorable experiences for Lauren, including winning Music for Youth after performing Year of the Dragon on Principal Cornet at Birmingham Symphony Hall.


Lauren joined Thundersley Brass as Principal Cornet in 2006, having spent some time previously playing cornet at Aveley and Newham Band, and flugel with Clacton-on-Sea Co-op Band. Lauren joined Friary in 2008 to spend more time with her future husband, Richard. Lauren held various positions in the cornet section before moving to flugel in 2012. As well as being the Band’s Secretary, she is a regular soloist with the Band, and also enjoys competing at solo competitions which has seen her crowned the Southern Counties Slow Melody Champion in 2010 and 2014. Lauren’s fondest banding moment was stepping on the Royal Albert Hall stage for the first time in 2013, and then getting to repeat this in 2014 - although only just making it, after having her appendix removed five days beforehand.


Lauren’s claim to fame is being asked to dep on flugel for Grimethorpe in 2008, but having to turn down the opportunity due to a Friary engagement. Lauren comes from a musical family, with her Mum playing horn, her eldest Brother, Rhys, playing flugelhorn, and her younger Brother and Sister playing for NEHASB and Cove Brass. Away from the band room, Lauren is a busy mum of 2 children and works in Internal Communications. 

2nd Horn
Nick Krebs

Owen Farr, renowned tenor horn soloist: “If you were good you were put on cornet or euphonium, if you were big you were given a tuba, and if you were completely useless you were put on horn.”  


Nick plays Second Horn.  He knows his place. 


Nick’s foray into banding began on cornet with Briton Ferry Silver and has spluttered along via Grimsdyke, Epsom, Pangbourne, Epsom (again) and Capital Concert Brass from whence he arrived at Friary in 2007.  It was during his second stint at Epsom that he was reassigned to horn, ostensibly to fill a vacancy, although in reality more likely a damage-limitation ploy. While at Friary Nick has played in both the National First Section (2010) and Senior Trophy (2014) victories, and has also been privileged to appear in all seven of Friary’s consecutive Royal Albert Hall Finals from 2013, although whether the adjudicators felt similarly privileged is less certain. Other performing highlights include a concert audience of zero and the opening of a public lavatory.


Nick spent many years as a teacher of geography and geology, and is now a map curator with one of our national collections. When not tormenting unsuspecting band audiences, he can be found salivating over old maps or shivering on the terraces of various decaying non-league football grounds, languishing in the latest misfortunes of Wealdstone FC.


Nick lives in his own little world near Horsham, Sussex.  He has a son, three tortoises, seven hundred Ordnance Survey maps and, much to his neighbours’ continued disappointment, a tenor horn.


Roger Webster, cornet virtuoso, on being given his first instrument: “It wasn’t a cornet, it was a tenor horn. I wasn’t impressed.” He gave it back the following week.

Solo Horn
Chris Pannell

Chris hails from a family who are no strangers to brass bands so it was no surprise that by the age of four he was playing the cornet, moving onto horn by the time he was seven. He joined the National Youth Brass Band when he was twelve where he held the Solo Horn seat for eight courses. In 2003 Chris was a finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year and joined the Fairey Band where he played until moving to Australia in 2008 for two years. Upon returning to the UK, Chris played for Hawthorn Band and Hammonds Saltaire before joining Friary in 2016.


Away from band, Chris is a civil engineer specialising in railway design and enjoys playing golf and food & drink.

1st Horn
Nigel Stevens

Nigel's passion for brass banding was born at the age of five when he blew his first blow in the Young Peoples Band of the Salvation Army at Hastings Citadel. He subsequently had many happy years at Worthing Citadel with whom he toured much of the UK and parts of Europe as part of their evangelical work. His secular playing began with Horsham Borough Band, where he later took the Principal Cornet seat before further enjoyable years at Uckfield Concert Brass and Chichester City Band. 


However Nigel's home for over 25 years of his playing career has been 'Friary'. He's held many management team positions and has been the Chairman since 2011. He sat in the Solo Horn chair from 2005 - 2016 and continues to unconvincingly insist that his nickname of "fingers" refers to his dexterity rather than what some refer to as an unusual valve finger placement. 


Since retiring from corporate life Nigel has dedicated his time and energy to other Brass Band and music related support roles. He is now at the helm as Operations Director of the World famous entertainment festival “Brass in Concert” and is a Trustee and Director of Brass Bands England where he has taken on the additional responsibility of project managing the European Brass Band Championships 2022 that will be held in England at Symphony Hall Birmingham. Expanding his horizons beyond brass bands he has recently been appointed to the Executive Board’s of 2 of England’s largest Music Hubs (Newcastle & Northumberland). 


From a myriad of banding memories he singles out his first steps onto the Royal Albert Hall stage in 2013 as his most proud and treasured. 


Being part of the long journey with Friary and seeing its reputation grow musically, financially and organisationally ranks as one of my most proud achievements.