The end of 2023 sees the departure of three Friary players, solo trombone Neil Wharton, BBb bass Ben Miller and cornet Chris Powell.
RAF musician Neil leaves on promotion to Flight Sergeant as he takes up a new post as Drum Major at the RAF College, Cranwell. With a new family, Ben has made the decision to concentrate on conducting, and after no fewer than 38 years’ service to Friary, Chris feels the time is right to step down.
Band Chairman David Wicks commented: ‘We congratulate Neil on his well-deserved promotion and wish him every success in his new post at Cranwell. We understand that this is a posting for 18 months, so we look forward to welcoming him back in due course. He’s been a key part of our recent success.’
‘We know that Ben is hugely committed to his new family, and completely appreciate his reasons for wishing to reduce his banding commitment. We wish him and his family well for the future, and no doubt our paths will cross at some stage.’
‘And last but most certainly not least, what can I say about Chris? He’s been a model Friary bandsman for nearly four decades, not only with his playing but also being on the management team, not to mention fulfilling the role of band manager for many years. We shall miss him immensely but hope to see him continuing his support for Friary, albeit from the audience. Thank you so much Chris for all you’ve done for the Band,’ he concluded.
Joining Friary on cornet is Jack Beer. Rochdale-born Jack came through Wardle Academy Youth Band, reaching principal cornet, and Milnrow Band before joining the army in 2020. After induction through the Royal Military School of Music he moved to the London area and currently plays in The Band of The Coldstream Guards.
Jack is delighted to join Friary: ‘My time out of banding has been short lived, however the itch to get back into the top level was always there. I’m really looking forward to getting started with this great band and excited to see what the future holds for us.’ David Wicks added: ‘Jack is a wonderful young talent who shows great potential for the future. We are so pleased to have him with us.’