News from the Band

Championship Section Debut / Mar 2024

On Sunday 10th March, the band took to the stage in the Championship section for the first time since 1977!

Performing Philip Sparke's 'Variations on an Enigma' in the West of England Regionals, the band managed a very respectible 8th place from 12 bands (11 competing on the day, 1 having withdrawn) and ensured survival in the section for a further year. Everyone was immensely proud of the effort that had been put in and thanks go to all of our members and their families for the excellent support, musicality and hard work, and a special thanks to our Musical Director, Joshua Ruck, for his leadership throughout.

Full results can be found on the WEBBA website and the adjudicators remarks are also available. A recording of our performance is available on wobplay.

Mandy Hamer to step down from Solo Euphonium position / Oct 2023

A valued member of the band for over 20 years with the last 8 having been spent in the position of Solo Euphonium, the A.W. Parker (Drybrook) Band are sorry to announce that Mandy is stepping back from her position with immediate effect.

Mandy first took up the seat in January 2015 and at her first contest led the band to their first West of England Regional victory in 43 years. Since then, she has been instrumental in the rise of the band including winning best soloist awards at numerous competitions. Her contribution to the band has been valued by us all.

Her true banding spirit was perhaps best displayed most recently when Mandy made the agonising personal decision to step aside for the National Finals. Having been suffering recently with embouchure dystonia, she put the band ahead of herself to allow the ensemble to have its best chance of achieving the “shout out from the stage” that we had been working so hard to achieve.

Musical Director, Joshua Ruck, paid tribute to Mandy saying “whilst it is with some reluctance that I have had to accept this decision from Mandy, it is born out of many hours of conversation between the two of us to ultimately reach a place in which she can be happy with her role with the band and our shared hobby. Her enjoyment is the most important aspect for me to consider and whilst I am saddened she can no longer continue her current role, I am very pleased that she has agreed to work with me in moving onto the band’s back row to begin her new life as a cornet player! We now begin our search for a new Solo Euphonium player to lead the band into the Championship Section in 2024.”

Thank you, Mandy, the band wholeheartedly wish you well in your new position. An advert for the role of Solo Euphonium will shortly be going out but early expressions of interest can be made in confidence to the Musical Director by emailing or through Facebook Messenger.

National Finals Success / Sep 2023

Following our 2nd place finish at the West of England Regionals back in March, the band were invited to the First Section National Finals on 16th September at Cheltenham Racecourse. The chosen test piece was Philip Harper's "St James's - A New Beginning", a work commissioned by St James's Church in Piccadilly in support of the Wren Project to mark the 300th anniversary of the death of the acclaimed British architect Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723). The work is set in four parts — a musical narrative that starts with 'The Great Fire' of 1666 itself, to meeting Wren, his vision for a new city and the final glory of a new London skyline dominated by the many new churches Wren designed — including St James's which was consecrated in 1684.

The band were the sixth to take to the stage from a field of 20 bands from across the UK and delivered a strong performance. 4barsrest summarised with the following remarks in their live feed of the day..."There was a viciousness to the opening with AW Parker (Drybrook) that left you in no doubt that the heat was on. The 'Firebird' flames came through a treat and the perc enhanced the dramatic effect. The 'Aftermath' just took time to find its forlorn nature and desolate certainty, but the cornet was bold and the sense of authority was taken on by the euph with his visionary lead. The MD was urging passion here and was rewarded - just on the right side of not being overwrought - with great topping by the sop. The 'Renaissance' just lost its sense of building nobility and dynamic focus in places, but it was so well put together. The triumphant close was that and more - filmatic and splendidly OTT. Not quite perhaps what Wren may have envisaged but one that certainly left a mark."

The British Bandsman commented: "Strong start. Controlled and precise, good balance and contrast. This is a very intense performance, the contrasts are very well controlled and very well delivered. The solo sections are delightful, almost haunting, lovely flow and style. The ensemble is so well balanced, everything is heard. Great build up into the finale, contrast, precision, balance, this has it all. As you may have worked out from the above, I am really enjoying this performance."

Later in the evening, following the last performance, the bands assembled in the hall and the tension mounted. As the results were announced, we were very pleased to be confirmed as 5th place finishers, an excellent result at an enjoyable contest! The adjudicators remarks can be read here and a recording off all the bands can be found on wobplay (subscription required).

An Enjoyable Summer of Music / Aug 2023

With a successful regionals performance behind us the band started their spring/summer concert season with a performance at the Drybrook Coronation Day Celebrations on 6th May, led by Assistant Musical Director Nigel Howard. Among other acts at the event were our musical neighbours, the Drybrook & District Ladies Choir and the Drybrook Male Voice Choir.

Several weeks later the band returned to Fownhope for our regular and much-anticipated Hearts of Oak March engagement, which saw the band traverse the length and breadth of the village behind the event banner and great tree branch, performing at several gardens inbetween. June brought on St. Briavel's Carnival with the band taking to the stage in scorching heat to perform two sets of music, ranging from Disney to Elgar!

The Pershore Midsummer Brass Festival took place on 1st July, where the band were fortunate to return to Pershore Abbey for an afternoon performance before closing the day's events at The Angel later in the evening.Our final engagement of the season was at the Ross-on-Wye Bandstand Proms Concert, where we performed to large and appreciative crowds in an extended event inbetween Forest of Dean Brass and Ebbw Valley Brass.

The band then took a short break before the build-up to September's National Finals in Cheltenham begin in earnest!

Bailey Lane End Music Festival 2023 / May 2023

On Saturday 13th May the 53rd Bailey Lane End Music Festival took place. Congratulations to all the competitors and to the winners on the day! You can find the full results here on our Festival page »

We would like to thank our sponsors Wright & Round, who kindly donated prizes for each class. Established in 1875, Wright & Round are one of the oldest publishing house in brass banding with a catalogue in excess of 5000 titles.

Thank you to Five Acres High School for allowing us to use their hall and facilities for the event.

Thanks also go to our adjudicator Jack Lythaby, part of the current horn team at Tredegar Town Band and former competitor at the Festival.

We would also like to thank all the parents & teachers who make this event possible. We look forward to seeing you all again for the 54th Bailey Lane End Festival.

New Conducting Partnership Leading into Summer / Apr 2023

The band are delighted to announce that Nigel Howard is to join the ensemble as the Assistant Musical Director. He will also take up the position of Solo Trombone. With our longstanding Musical Director, Joshua Ruck, now also engaged with Llwydcoed Brass Band, this appointment ensures that our successful relationship with him will continue with renewed support as the band looks forward to a busy summer programme and the National Finals in September.

Speaking of the appointment, Nigel remarked that “I was approached by Josh with the offer of a Principal Trombone position in A W Parker (Drybrook) Band and to assist Josh in his role as Musical Director of the Band. Having played under Josh on a number of occasions, and experienced the level of musicianship within Drybrook Band I was interested enough in this offer to accept. I am now looking forward to playing and conducting at Drybrook with a renewed excitement and a rekindled desire to work with a good brass band again. Promotion to the Championship from 2024 brings with it a new challenge for which I feel I am ready, and I will perform to the best of my ability in this fine Band. I would like to thank Josh and the Band for their faith in me and I look forward to repaying that confidence in future years.

In welcoming Nigel, our Musical Director remarked, “I have long admired Nigel’s talents as both a fine trombone player and conductor. This appointment has come at the perfect time as it completes a strong trombone team and gives me further support as we collectively continue to move the organisation forward. On a personal level, I am really looking forward to working with Nigel.

Championship Section in 2024 / Apr 2023

Following the fantastic second place result at the Regionals in Torquay, WEBBA have now confirmed that the band have been promoted and will be competing in the Championship Section from 2024! This is the culmination of a 12 year journey from the Fourth Section in 2011 and is a testament to the hard work of MD and players past and present!

Full Grading Tables: WEBBA website

3rd at ODBBA / Feb 2023

The band travelled to Banbury on 26th February to start their 2023 contesting off at the Oxfordshire & District Brass Band Association Contest. The contest is well timed before the West of England Regionals, to be held in March, and all six First Section competitors opted to perform this year's Regionals Test Piece "A Day in the Life of a Knight" by Philip Lawrence. Among the six were fellow West of England bands Lydbrook, City of Bristol and Wotton-under-Edge & District.

Taking to the stage 4th, the band were keen to hear feedback from adjudicator, Alan Duguid, who eventually placed us third, behind Milton Keynes in second and winners, Lydbrook. Our sights now turn to the Regionals in Torquay and we hope we can improve on the areas noted by Alan during our remaining rehearsals!

Passing with Distinction / Jan 2023

Congratulations to our Second Cornet player Connor Edwards on passing his ABRSM Grade 7 B Flat Cornet Practical with Distinction! (Pictured with his tutor and Band MD, Josh Ruck).

Its been a busy few months for Connor, who has also recently won a bursary from the Forest Singers to put towards the costs of his musical career. The band are very pleased to have such a focused young player with us.

Moving Up in the World / Jan 2023

2023 opened with some pleasant news as the latest 4barsrest World Rankings saw the band move up 34 places to 131st, following our contesting exploits in 2022. This makes us the highest ranked First Section band in the West of England (with only 8 Championship Section West of England Bands ahead of us) and the highest ranked band in the Forest of Dean.

This upward move brings us closer to our record high of 107th, which we achieved back in January 2019. Time will tell if we can maintain this level of ranking as we head into Spring Contesting at Oxford in February and Torquay in March.

Award Winners / Dec 2022

At our band Awards Evening in December, our annual awards were distributed to pleased recipients. Our MD, Josh, awarded Most Improved Player of the Year to Connor Edwards (left) who joined the band on Cornet during 2022 and has continued to impress throughout the year.

Despite hard lobbying from the Horn Section, Section of the Year was awarded to the Baritones & Euphoniums for their consistent attendance, work rate and performances as a group.

Musician of the Year went to Tom James (middle) for his concerted efforts across the Percussion section during 2022. Josh noted that "he could always rely on Tom to have the parts covered", regardless of who might be depping alongside him or how many percussion parts a Test Piece might have!

The final award, as voted for by band members, was Bandsperson of the Year. This was awarded to a very grateful Hugh James (right), the band's Secretary and Web & Media Lead and Trophy Officer for his efforts through 2022.

The Awards were followed by a buffet and team-based games (thanks Tom and Beth!), requiring difficult skills including counting, paper manipulation and musical lullaby composition - all good prep for the spring contest season!

Christmas Traditions / Dec 2022

This Christmas the band were able to get back to some pre-COVID traditions at last (although the snow blocked some of our events)! In particular we were able to hold our Christmas Concert again, this time at St. Michael & All Angels Church in Mitcheldean alongside the Drybrook & District Ladies Choir, who we've not performed with for several years. It was great to be back together again!

Autumn Contesting / Nov 2022

Keen to complete as much contesting as possible in 2022, the band entered both the LBBA & GBBA Contests in November. On 20th November the band travelled up to Loughborough for an early 8.30am rehearsal before walking on stage later that morning to perform Peter Graham's "Prisms". In a First Section grouping of eight bands, we managed a solid mid-table 5th place finish, as awarded by adjudicator, Nicholas Garman. (View LBBA Results and Our Adjudicator Remarks).

The following weekend the band stayed closer to home, competing at the GBBA contest held in Quedgeley, Gloucestershire. As well as reprising "Prisms", we also performed the March "Army of the Nile", which has become something of a favourite for us. Our performance found favour with adjudicator Paul Holland and from an Open field of eight bands, ranging from Championship to Fourth section, we secured overall victory. In total the band won Best Horn Section of the Day, Best Percussion Section of the Day, Best Cornet Player of the Day, Best 1st Section Band in both the March and Test Piece contests, Overall Winners in both the March Test Piece contests and the Winning Conductor Trophy. Not a bad haul of trophies for the cabinet! (View GBBA Results and Our Adjudicator Remarks).

As well as securing band prizes, our Chairman, David Harding, was awarded a long-service award by the GBBA for 50 years of brass playing and work within banding. Congratulations Dave!

Band Room Landscaping / Aug 2022

Recently the land outside the Band Room had become wildly overgrown. However, thanks to work from our Band Room Lead - Tom James - and BML Landscaping based in Cinderford, the area has had a thorough makeover during August and is now neat and tidy once again!

Battling the Bugle Weather / Jun 2022

June 2022 saw the West of England Bandsmen's Festival take place again, following a two year hiatus. The band made the trek down to Bugle in Cornwall for the day to compete against four other First Section bands, including local rivals Forest of Dean Brass. The Festival is somewhat different from most contests in that it is held during early summer in the open air. However, things did not go entirely to plan as the band took to the stage during torrential rain and strong gusts of wind, (which even claimed some players music before it could be secured!)

Nonetheless the band delivered a good performance of the hymn 'Love Divine', arranged by Philip Wilby, followed by the Test Piece 'Purpose' by Paul Sharman. The performance was enough to secure a second place finish from adjudicator Tom Hutchinson in both the Hymn and Test Piece contests (see remarks here), matching the band's last result at the Festival back in 2019. Another solid result on the heels of the West of England Regional success in April!

West of England Regional Success! / Apr 2022

Over two years since the last Regionals, the A W Parker (Drybrook) band took to the stage in Cheltenham on 2nd April 2022 to perform Gilbert Vinter's "Spectrum" in front of adjudicators Dr Robert Childs & Alan Morrison. Drawn to play 2nd from 15 bands, there was a long wait for the results, which came later in the evening. The band were delighted to be placed 3rd, by far the highest position since returning to the First Section in 2016. Full results can be found on the WEBBA website. This result brings the band security in the First Section for the next few years and comes on the heals of another great test piece contest result in the preceding November. The band will now turn their contesting sights to the West of England Bandsmen's Festival, held in Bugle (Cornwall) in June, as well as a range of spring and summer concerts starting with Fownhope Hearts of Oak March in May.

Welsh Open Performance / Feb 2022

In mid-February, the band returned to the Welsh Open for the first time since 2019. On a wet and windy day in Newport's Riverfront venue, we performed an entertainment programme based on the theme of heroes. The programme opened with "Walking with Heroes" by Paul Lovatt-Cooper, followed by Arlen & Harburg's "Over the Rainbow", arranged by Goff Richards and performed by Solo Horn player, Andrew Jones. The exciting "Batman the Movie - Main Theme" by Danny Elfman, arranged by Alan Catherall came next before the contemplative "Evening Hymn & Sunset", arranged by Rob Wiffin and featuring Principal Cornet player, Trystan Jones. The programme concluded with "Olympic Truce", the final movement from Philip Harper's 'Olympus'.

Though there were some quality moments, there were also enough issues to ensure we would not be in the prizes. When the results came in, we managed an 11th place finish from 13. As noted by our Musical Director after the result, "we came, we saw.... and we had some fun. A wild performance to reflect the wild weather!"

Our minds now return to the build-up for the rescheduled West of England Regional Finals, which will be held in Cheltenham on Saturday 2nd April.

Victory in Poole / Nov 2021

Our first contest performance since March 2020 was one to remember as the band travelled down to Poole to take part in the WBBA's Winter Own Choice Contest on Saturday 27th November. Following a strong performance, we were awarded first prize in the first section for our performance of ‘A London Overture’. Furthermore, we placed second overall across the entire field of 16 bands! Playing our own choice march ‘Army of the Nile’, we placed first overall in the open section! To top it off, our superstar solo euphonium player, Mandy Hamer, took home the prize for best euphonium of the day. It’s great to be back doing what we love, and we’ve had a thoroughly enjoyable time preparing for this event.

Band Restarts...again! / May 2021

Following Christmas 2020 and the subsequent lockdown, banding at Drybrook turned digital in early 2021, with Zoom rehearsals taking place for several months. On 23rd May 2021 however, following enactment of the Government's 'Step 3', two small groups met at the Band Room to restart rehearsals in a COVID-secure way. While some finished with lips a bit worse for wear, it was thoroughly enjoyable to be back making music once more.

Assuming Step 4 of the Government's plan takes place on 21st June as expected, the band aim to resume full rehearsals in late June for the first time since March 2020! This will be quickly followed by our first engagement of 2021 at the Rising Sun in Moseley Green on 4th July. Performing outdoors at this regular Forest of Dean banding hotspot will allow any remaining distancing concerns to be addressed and provide a great entry back into public performing. The band will then have opportunities to perform further in August - at Scarr Bandstand - and in September - at Ross on Wye Bandstand. And who knows, if the COVID situation continues to improve, perhaps a contest might be in sight during the Autumn?!?

Virtual Pershore Midsummer Brass / Jul 2020

Our five video entries can be found on the Media page »

The PMB website can be found at

The press release from Pershore Midsummer Brass is shared below...

This brass band festival went online this year due to the Corona virus restrictions and the event was a great success. On Saturday 4th July 2020 Pershore Midsummer Brass festival should have been held in Pershore as it has been annually, bringing together bands from across the Midlands and beyond, in a unique non-competitive festival of brass with as many as 4 venues around the town. This year bands provided virtual performances and footage to the organisers instead.

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak and the Government advice on Social Distancing, these band have had to cancel rehearsals, but many are holding ‘virtual’ rehearsals, where they all play their own individual parts and then ‘mix’ them together. Others provided pre-recorded footage, even recordings made by their supporters at previous performances and open rehearsals.

A fanfare opened the day, played by Jaguar Land Rover Band alongside a welcome from John West, chairman of Pershore Midsummer Brass and Pershore Town mayor, Councillor Chris Parsons MBE. This was followed by full performances from Arrow Valley Brass, AW Parker (Drybrook) Band From the Forest of Dean, the Band of Gloucestershire Constabulary, Bretforton Silver Band, City of Coventry Brass, Jaguar Land Rover Band based in Coventry, Malvern Hills Brass Band, A reunited Perscoran Brass, Shipston Town Band and Stour Concert Brass from Shipston in South Warwickshire, Shirley Band from Solihull, SPAL Sovereign Brass from the Black Country, Stourport on Severn Brass Band, Tewkesbury Town and Training Bands, The Langley Band from Oldbury in the West Midlands, Worcester City Brass and Worcester Concert Brass.

All the bands had worked hard to gather what was required by the organisers within a tight deadline. Some fun videos from bands were recorded under lockdown conditions, where we could spot the matching wallpaper of brass-banding families, We loved the music of Worcester City Brass and spotting the silly hat's and goggles, post it notes(?) and teddies, even a dog in their videos recorded at home. Langley Band even arranged their lockdown videos on the screen in the same way they would have appeared onstage as a band as if they were facing the conductor, wearing rainbow colours to play Over The Rainbow in tribute to the NHS.

Some bands sent pre-recorded performances on existing CDs of music. AW Parker (Drybrook) Band even supplied music recorded in Pershore Abbey itself, where they would have hoped to play at Pershore Midsummer Brass. There was a further taste of Pershore Midsummer Brass with a proms concert from Stourport on Severn Band playing in a marquee similar to the one at the Angel Hotel or the Star Inn.

Tewkesbury band sent archive videos of their training band through many years, while the training band for Worcester City Band appeared in their own lockdown videos and we reminisced with the archive photographs of Perscoran Band and Bretforton Silver Band through the years. Perscoran had hoped to reunite at Pershore Midsummer Brass to perform in celebration of their founder Gordon Hartley Bennett who also began the first incarnation of the Pershore Midsummer Brass festival. Gordon Hartley-Bennett responded to their recording and photographs with the message: "Thank you for the kind tribute and wonderful memories. It would have been brilliant to see you all. Roll on PMB 2021!"

Some of the bands had managed to add an extra touch to their perfomances. Arrow Valley Brass provided a tour of Ireland recorded from a drone to accompany a celtic tune, while Jaguar Land Rover Band performed with friends on electric guitars, as an exciting addition to the normal brass band line-up.

The festival ended with a performance from Lockdown Brass, comprised of players from Worcester Concert Brass, Malvern Hills Brass Band and Malvern Chase Band who have supported each other through lockdown with quizzes and chats online. They recorded a piece by Fodens Band Principal Trombone player, John Barber, known as Song for the Frontline, in support of the NHS. Fodens Brass have more ‘lock down’ performances and links to their NHS charities campaign on facebook:

As hoped, this method of sharing Pershore Midsummer Brass reached many of those who would normally come to Pershore as well as being shared with new listeners. We had an incredible total of 5287 views over the whole weekend and many positive comments from bands and spectators alike. Despite the difficult conditions the event was a great success, and to quote Gordon Hartley Bennett commented, “Roll on 2021”. It will be on 3rd July if you want to add it to your diary now.

Oxford & Torquay Contests / Mar 2020

The spring contest season started early with the band competing at the February Oxford Brass Band Association contest in Woodstock, Oxford. This contest always provides an opportunity for bands to play the Regionals test piece at a contest before the West of England Area contest in March, receiving adjudication feedback that can be used to influence final preparations. This year the regional test piece for the first section was "Legacy" by Tom Davoren, a celebration of the work and achievements of the Welsh politician Aneurin Bevan in the formation of the NHS 70 years ago. The band was pleased with the performance but were placed 6th with the top 3 positions going to City of Bristol Brass, Cawston and Hyde. (Full remarks are available to read).

The band regrouped for a further 3 weeks of intense rehearsals before the West of England Regional Championships at the Riviera Centre in Torquay. The event took place with special measures to protect players from the COVID-19 virus outbreak, with the contest being held on the final days when public gatherings were allowed. The first section was the largest section in the contest with 18 bands entered. The band gave their all on stage and returned a 12th place result. (Full remarks are available to read). The impact of this was that the band remained in the 1st section for another year. Sadly, this contest was the final outing for the band with John Butson on Soprano Cornet. John, who is one of the most popular and revered players in the band, has decided to have a break from the brass band world. He will be sorely missed for his playing and warm personality. The Torquay weekend remains an important social occasion within the banding year. The players were able to spend time together away from rehearsals with some enjoying the late night 80s disco at the hotel, the last social outing for many of us as we are now in lockdown.

Currently the band is not rehearsing, to support the government advice on social distancing. To keep our momentum going the members are looking forward to an online Sunday Quiz Night and the parts have been distributed for our Autumn test piece. We are looking forward to returning to the normal rehearsal regime of 2 rehearsals a week and we are hoping that as many of our Summer programme concerts as possible can take place.

Another Year Begins... / Jan 2020

The band are now back in rehearsal working hard preparing the Area test-piece "Legacy" which they will be playing at 2 upcoming contests, the first on February 23rd is the Oxford Brass Band Association contest and then at the West of England Regional Championships in Torquay on the 14th of March.

We are pleased to welcome Wayne Williams, who has joined us on the Flugel Horn and the percussion section has been further strengthened by Han Morgan. Heather License, who has depped for us for some time has also signed for the band permanently. As talented musicians, Wayne, Han & Heather bring a wealth of banding experience with them.

At the end of December the band held a Christmas concert and award evening at Westbury Village Hall. Thank you to our supporters who spent the evening with us! Our award winners were as follows: the Musician of the Year award went to John Butson, our much loved soprano player whose dedication to the success of the band has seen him go above and beyond. The Most Improved Player of Year was awarded to Sarah Milosevic, our First Horn player, whose determination and hard work to develop her playing has paid dividends. Each year, the band members themselves vote for the 'Bandsman of the Year'. This award is given to the player who demonstrates the highest level of commitment to the success of the band and this year the players voted for Mandy Hamer, our excellent Solo Euphonium player.

If you would like an opportunity to see the band play, there are plenty of opportunities between now and September, the first being our performance at Ross-on-Wye Band Stand on Sunday 31st May between 2:30pm and 4:30pm. Looking further ahead (it's never too early to talk Christmas!) we have arranged our Christmas Concert and Awards evening for Saturday 19th December at Drybrook Memorial Hall.


If you have any questions about our the band or wish to book us for an event, please contact our Chairman - David Harding...



The band takes its safeguarding duties seriously and is aligning with the Bandsafe guidance provided by Brass Bands England.

To raise a concern with the Band, please contact our Safeguarding Lead - Liz Sheridan...


We are proud to have our own purpose-build built Band Room with rehearsal space, storage and kitchen facilities, thanks to the efforts of past members.

The Band Room, Drybrook, Gloucestershire, GL17 9JA

The Band Room is also available for hire. Please contact us to find out more.


The band rehearses twice a week at our Band Room in Drybrook. If you fancy a blow, please get in touch to arrange to join us.

Thursdays, 8.00pm - 10.00pm

Sundays, 7.00pm - 9.00pm