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Friary Diary - Issue 99 - May 2023

Welcome to Friary Diary issue 99 - a monthly round up of news about the Friary Brass Band.


Friary bandsmen Neil Wharton (trombone) and Sam Noden (euphonium) were both involved in the Coronation parade.  Both are RAF musicians and also took part in last year’s Platinum Jubilee and the Queen’s funeral marches.  Neil, a Drum Major, takes up the story:  “ I was part of the procession band and we had a week of intense rehearsals and covered an average of 22,000 steps a day practising with the troops. We had an overnight rehearsal in central London for which we stepped off at 0300am and the lack of light proved to be quite a challenge for reading our match cards.”

“When the big day finally arrived, so did the rain. We stood in Trafalgar Square for over an hour in the rain waiting to step off. When we finally got the command to step off we marched down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace through the huge crowds. We then entered the gardens of the Palace and waited for the King and Queen to appear. We then marched off back to our start point - very tired and with sore feet. It was quite an occasion to be a part of and the third huge state occasion I’ve done in the last 18 months. Some people will be lucky if they do one.”

Well done Neil and Sam: we’re immensely proud of you.  It was certainly a memorable day for all concerned.


The long trip to Blackpool for the Grand Shield contest, in the hope of opening the door to the British Open, is set for a repeat journey next year as Friary was placed 8th out of the field of 20 bands. Band Chairman David Wicks commented: “Although we were well prepared, sadly our performance on the day just didn’t quite match what we’d achieved in rehearsals. It was a good performance, but not an outstanding one which is what we needed to secure one of the top two places to qualify for the Open. We’re disappointed, of course, but at the same time this is our fourth consecutive top ten finish which is certainly no mean achievement.”

As brass band website 4barsrest neatly put it: “The Grand Shield remains arguably the most difficult contest in the banding world to escape from let alone win, with numerous highly competitive top level bands enduring a form of Blackpool purgatory — sometimes years on end before they finally make the trip to Symphony Hall.”

Congratulations to Whitburn, who only the previous weekend competed in the Europeans, and Hepworth who produced the outstanding performances of the day to take first and second, and also our fellow London & Southern Counties band Redbridge. Their fourth place in the Senior Cup means they will compete in next year’s Grand Shield with Friary. Finally, our thanks go to our deps and especially to Nigel Taken. We are most grateful for all his hard work and encouragement on our musical journey to Blackpool.


To celebrate the Coronation of HRH King Charles III, our good friends at Ash Parish Council are hosting a free concert by Friary on Saturday 24th June. In a similar format to the famous ‘Last Night of the Proms’, the programme will include well-known classics, full of ‘Pomp and Circumstance’. Whilst entry is free, due to the limit on hall capacity, and to guarantee entry, please register for your free ticket here.


There has been no further update since 8th April, so Friary remains 24th in the world. For full ranking details, please go to



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