Friary has bid a fond farewell to long-standing member Alex Sears, a key player on baritone and latterly tenor horn for nearly 20 years. She was also the Band’s Contest Secretary and an integral member of the Management Team for many years. Alex plans to take a break from full-time banding, before finding a band to join with her husband Paddy who has also provided logistical support to Friary on many occasions. Band Chairman David Wicks acknowledged Alex’s immense contribution to Friary over the years: “Alex’s playing and her encyclopedic knowledge of the complex rules for contests will be greatly missed: we are deeply grateful to both her and Paddy, and wish them all the very best for the future.”
As we say goodbye to Alex, we extend a warm welcome to Kelly Harrison on tenor horn. Originally from the North East colliery community, Kelly moved to Essex as a child and started tenor horn at age six, beginning her brass banding journey with Billericay Silver Band a year later and moving to Southend Band at age 11. As a youngster she accrued much success in the London & Home Counties solo competitions competing with the likes of Philip Harper and was runner up in the prestigious Audi Young Musician of the Year competition.
Kelly went on to win a full scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music Junior Department in London, which she attended for five years. During this time she joined the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, playing under the late Bramwell Tovey, Roy Newsome and Richard Evans and becoming principal horn. She was also a member of Young Ambassadors Brass Band of Great Britain and Youth Brass 2000.
Kelly is an honours graduate from the Royal College of Music where she studied French horn, baroque horn, piano and composition. Classical studies led to regular pit work and stints at Kensington Symphony Orchestra, Guernsey Symphony Orchestra and subsequently local freelance work. Whilst at the RCM she attained a Licentiate of The Guildhall School (LGSM) on tenor horn. Most notably, during her time at the RCM Kelly was part of a task force to raise awareness of brass banding in the London Colleges of Music in partnership with Grimethorpe Colliery Band which ultimately gave rise to the band now known as Zone One Brass.
Kelly has an abundance of banding experience: she is firm friends with local bands Tilbury, Epping and Fulham and is often seen helping out on stage or at rehearsals. Kelly has also guested further afield with Foresters, Leyland and Cory, to name but a few.
Part of the team for years at a time with Welsh band Parc & Dare, Desford Colliery, Zone One Brass, Redbridge Brass, Kelly subsequently won the Grand Shield with Aveley & Newham and came 2nd at the French Open. Most recently, for many years, Kelly was secretary and solo horn for her local band Thundersley Brass Band and her proudest moment at this tenure was National Finals appearance in 2018 at the Royal Albert Hall.
Currently, Kelly is Head of a thriving Music Department at Belfairs Academy in Essex where she has been musical director of shows including Grease and Les Miserables. Away from music Kelly is proud mum to Lou (18) and Eythan (13) and is a keen amateur runner, covering around 100km a month.
“I have long admired Friary from afar and am thrilled to be joining the ranks,” enthused Kelly, adding “Friary is one of the best bands in the country with a very hard-working and dedicated team. Chris King and the Band have been incredibly welcoming and I can’t wait to contribute to the drive for more Friary successes,” she concluded.