OUR PAST PLAYERS STORIES
All kinds of people, all kinds of careers.
Amy Humphreys was in our band 1996-2005 playing the cornet. Now working as an Occupational Therapist, Amy says:
"I joined St Helens Youth thanks to my teacher Lynda Nicholson at the age of 9. The band has provided me with so many opportunities and skills. I had many amazing experiences, including playing for the Queen and a trip to Disney Land. I have met some of my best friends through banding and even my husband. I am still playing the cornet at Rainford band, there are many ex youth band players there and it’s been great to come together as part of the virtual alumni band. Although I did not pursue a career in music, as an occupational therapist I frequently use it as part of my therapy sessions. Being part of SHYBB has shaped my life and I am so proud of my time in the band."
Chris Hibberd was part of our band from 2008 to 2016 and is currently in the British Army as a musician. Chris says:
"SHYBB gave me some of my most memorable musical memories from performing around the whole of the UK to further reaches including Europe and North America. The friends I made in my eight years have become some of my closest friends and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the organisation"
Ruth Hurst pictured in concert with SHYBB here was part of the band from 2000 to 2010 playing Euphonium and Baritone. Ruth is now a music and drama teacher. She says:
"I was in SHYBB for 10 years. There were so many amazing performances, experiences, and tours to places I would otherwise never have been, and so much good music! Being in the band nurtured a sense of commitment and responsibility. I also made lots of good friends and got a husband out of it too!"
Paul Duffy says:
"SHYBB was the foundation to my life as a musician. I joined the band at the age of 7 and stayed until I was kicked out at the age of 19. I began on 3rd cornet in B Band. But after a few weeks the C band was created and I became an inaugural member. After many years of development and fantastic experiences like having the opportunities to play my first solos, I left SHYBB as principal cornet of the A Band. At the time I was also playing soprano cornet with the world famous Black Dyke Band and this same year won my first National Championship in the Royal Albert Hall. I played with the Black Dyke Band as a soloist for 7 years before I embarked on a solo career as a multi-instrumentalist. Releasing several solo albums and touring the world extensively. Now I am based back in the UK, I record a lot of brass for soundtracks and songs. I don’t tour as much as I used to because I took a second job as an airline pilot."
Katie played Euphonium from 1994-2002 and now works as an Occupational Therapist.
I started with St Helens Youth Band from 1994 (I think!) when they rehearsed at Ruskin Drive; where we spent
many a morning running round the pitch outside when someone yawned!
I played with B band and then A band until leaving for university in 2002, however stayed with the band for the
next two years helping out on weekends.
My years with St Helens Youth were some of the best of my life, giving me memories and friends that will last
a lifetime, as well as skills such as commitment and discipline which have been vital in my career and adult life.
I even played my euphonium on my wedding day with friends I had met from Youth Band surprising me for a
I’ve not played since having my children, however having enjoyed playing again for the alumni project who
knows what the future holds!
I joined the St Helens Youth Brass Band as a nine year old in 1992 and played with them until I moved to London to study trumpet at the Royal Academy of Music in 2001. My years as a member of SHYBB helped me to grow both as a musician and a person. The band, under the inspirational leadership of Lynda Nicholson, was incredibly successful both on the concert and contest platform. During my time with SHYBB we were fortunate to celebrate several National Youth Championship victories, undertook successful tours abroad and premiered a new piece by Howard Snell - whom would later become one of my teachers at the RAM. Since graduating in 2006 I have enjoyed a varied freelance career as a solo, chamber, orchestral and session musician. As Principal Trumpet of the London Contemporary Orchestra, I have recorded many film soundtracks and played with renowned artists like Mumford & Sons, Gruff Rhys, DJ Shadow and UNKLE. I also regularly perform as an extra player with the likes of the LSO, Philharmonia and RPO and have deputised on several West End shows. I am a founding member of the brass covers band, Old Dirty Brasstards, playing at major UK festivals such as Glastonbury. Alongside my playing commitments, I enjoy teaching and being involved in outreach projects coaching young musicians. I am delighted that SHYBB continues to offer the young brass players of St Helens the opportunity to make music together and experience the fun of banding!
Gemma Rowlands played Tenor Horn from 2003-2009 and is now a Freelance Writer and Editor.
I started playing relatively late in comparison to lots of other youngsters, but would probably have never
started at all if Lynda Nicholson hadn’t delivered a demonstration in my school when I was in Y6. I immediately
knew I wanted to play, and started learning the cornet, joining SHYBB a couple of years later. I met so many
amazing friends there, and enjoyed some fabulous experiences including concerts, residentials and tours. I’ll
never forget the feeling of excitement I used to get on a Friday night knowing I had band the next morning (is
that sad?), and nothing since has ever matched it! Thanks to the youth band I am now involved in various adult
bands in the local area – now playing tenor horn – and I’m excited to see what the future holds for the SHYBB