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Friary Diary - Issue 86 - May 2022

Welcome to Friary Diary issue 86 - a monthly round up of news about the Friary Brass Band.


Friary put in a towering performance of Peter Graham’s ‘Dynasty’ at the British Open Spring Festival held at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens earlier this month. Whilst the ultimate prize of an invitation to the British Open itself – first or second place – remained as elusive as ever, the Band registered its best result to date in the Grand Shield.

In a field of 19 bands (Woodfalls withdrew), Friary was drawn third, rather earlier than ideal. Nevertheless despite that, and the challenges of some extremely exposed solos, the performance drew high praise in 4barsrest commentator Chris Thomas’ summary: ‘A performance that radiated quality from Friary Brass. Musically astute and executed with admirable consistency throughout.’

The website’s post contest review was equally complimentary: ‘The admirably consistent London & Southern Counties challengers produced another solidly delivered account to post their best finish at the contest under Chris King — although never quite ever suggesting that it was going to be enough to see them book B&B in Birmingham in September. They are a band though that is getting closer to Symphony Hall.’

Band Chairman Nigel Stevens was more than delighted with the result: ‘Of course, a trip to the Open was

the ultimate prize, but this was our finest result to date at the Spring Festival. All the Band, in particular our soloists, made a first class contribution.’ ‘How could we be disappointed with that,’ he concluded.

Congratulations to Rothwell Temperance and Northop Silver who took the all-important top two places.


Friary’s AGM in May saw the end of an era: long-serving chairman Nigel Stevens stepped down after 11 years at the helm and after 19 years as a player. During his tenure, Nigel oversaw the Band’s progression on many fronts, not least to a top twenty ranking at the end of 2021. But whilst the musical element of the Band was of course important, the social connectivity and camaraderie was equally important in driving Friary’s success, he thought.

In his emotional closing remarks, Nigel thanked all of the Band for their friendship, their support without which Friary could have achieved very little and for the huge amount of dedication and time all had put in over the years. He also generously acknowledged the management team members who he said it had been a privilege and a joy to work with. ‘I know I leave you in excellent hands to take the work forward,’ he concluded, welcoming incoming chairman Dave Wicks.

Nigel will be greatly missed, as will Sarah Stevens who as the Band’s librarian has kept Friary’s music in excellent order, and has also taken numerous wonderful photos of Friary in action over the years. Whilst retiring from Friary, however, Nigel is busier than ever in the world of banding: CEO of Brass in Concert, Director of Brass Bands England and Executive Member of the European Brass Bands Association. All at Friary thank him for a job superbly done and wish him and Sarah all the very best for the future.

Taking over the reins, Dave Wicks commented: ‘Nigel is an immensely hard act to follow. His dedication and breadth of view have been crucial to Friary’s success over the past 11 years. He leaves the Band in fine shape, despite the challenges of Covid, and I am looking forward to building on the success.’

Nigel was presented with a framed montage of Friary memorabilia and was made Band President to mark his outstanding contribution over so many years.


Preparations are in the final stages for this coming weekend’s major contest at Blackpool’s Winter Garden, where Friary joins 19 other bands competing in the Grand Shield. The top two bands will qualify for the British Open … whilst the bottom four will drop to the Senior Cup next year. Peter Graham’s ‘Dynasty’ is the test piece. More details in the next issue.


Rankings were not updated in May, when Friary remained 22nd in the world. For full ranking details, please go to



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