Those were the days of band subs and Mike had the job of collecting the money, apparently only one person paid in fifteen weeks! Perhaps it was he and his pals friendly support of the young teenagers coming in from local schools later in the 1960’s that made the turning point into a full band and then contesting.
The first contest of the reformed band was in 1970 with London River, having Mike on the end chair playing Solo Euphonium. Second prize was awarded, with the band’s first trophy for a very long time. There is a famous photograph showing Mike holding this trophy celebrating in the Navi with all his mates still in band uniform and with those younger players included too.
In the ups and downs of the bands fortunes, Mike was always there, decade after decade. A principle player, committee member, band master and coach driver… Yes he sometimes drove the coach to band contest’s as well.
Fancy dress concerts were becoming a successful fundraiser for trips to the London Finals, with Mike being seen as a Red Indian Chief on the ‘Wild West Night’, a Navy Sailor in the ‘Back to the Forties Night’ and a fierce looking Pirate on a sponsored boat lock flight down the canal, complete with eye patch and a real missing tooth.
Mike was still on the Euphonium top chair in the mid 1980’s when the bands contesting success just seemed to take off. Mike had returned to the bandmaster position once again, supporting his new conductor, chairman and band secretary – that was a dream team of top notch talent that seemingly could do no wrong.
Nearly twenty years of contest win’s produced a run propelling them from village band level to giant killing performances – cutting up many of the top section bands. During this time Mike had the intuition to hand over the Euphonium end chair and famously nail down the 2nd Baritone position for later times in the higher sections. Retiring from playing just a few years before the band won the British Open in 1996, but he was there in the audience supporting as ever. Overjoyed with the bands achievement and eager to take part in the long celebrations that came afterwards.
In the following years after the Open win, the band had its problems of players moving on, some to the big named bands that Mike was always so very proud of. This created vacancies and the band standard reduced again to the lower sections and in 2004, Mike returned to his baritone chair to help out. After some rebuilding the band started to progress once again, until Mike got his hands on the 2nd Section National trophy for the second time in 2014, another famous photograph was taken at The Cheltenham Racecourse for the records.
Mike was presented with a Diamond Long Service Award for 60 years service to brass banding. It wasn’t long before he was referred to as
‘The Diamond Geezer’… such a well respected man in the banding world.
RIP Jacko… Banding just won’t be the same without you.