At our recent Spring contest, It gave the scaba team great pleasure to present Janet Blackford with a thoroughly deserved award for 50 years service to brass banding.
Janet started her banding career with Godalming Band and, with the encouragement of her parents Bob and Peggy Tucker, joined the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain on Tenor Horn. In 1964 the family moved to Horsham and Bob and Janet joined the Horsham Borough Band. For a time, Janet also played in Handcross Band and she enjoyed many successful contest performances with both bands.
Janet played Tenor Horn with the Burgess Hill Brass Band in the 1980s, continuing to play and enjoy contesting success with them when the band merged with Haywards Heath Town Band to create Mid Sussex Brass Band in 1986. Janet stayed with Mid Sussex Brass through the 1990s and into the 2000s. She then enjoyed a spell with Heathfield Silver Band with her husband Doug, both serving on the Committee and playing in the Band.
Janet’s parents Bob and Peggy sadly both passed away during 2005. Colleagues from Janet and Doug’s many previous bands were able to join Mid Sussex Brass in playing at their funeral services. In memory of the Tucker’s service to brass banding over many years and for giving her the opportunity to play with the NYBB, Janet set up a Bursary to support young musicians from scaba member bands to take part in courses run by the National Youth and National Children’s Brass Bands of Great Britain.
Janet and Doug still regularly help at scaba contests and Janet continues to play at Mid Sussex Brass and at Mayfield Band where Doug recently became Conductor.
Founded in 1893, scaba (formerly known as the Southern Counties Amateur Bands Association) is the largest brass band association in the South of England, having approximately 40 bands in membership for whom it arranges regular contests and other events. In 1988, scaba introduced a scheme inviting member bands to nominate players who had contributed to the brass band movement through loyal service to bands over a period of at least 50 years, for recognition by the awarding of a scaba ‘50’Year Award certificate. Similar schemes have since been adopted by most of the amateur brass band associations in the UK. Since 1988, we have made more than 150 awards. Each of those players has served a minimum of 50 years in brass bands, equating to nearly 8,000 years of service between them, and they represent only the tip of an iceberg of commitment to brass banding across the South East of England.
Players like Janet Blackford reflect the lifetime appeal of playing in brass bands and set a wonderful example for the young musicians who follow them to secure the future of our brass band heritage.