The band demonstrated their versatility during a Sunday afternoon celebration

Music from across five decades filled a packed St Peter’s Church in Brackley yesterday afternoon (Sunday) as Brackley and District Band celebrated their 50th anniversary with a special concert, proving they are as popular now as when they formed in the 1970s.

The band’s versatility was demonstrated with musical offerings from shows (Les Misérables), films (Back to the Future) and TV (Last Of The Summer Wine).   This sat alongside a tune from the Beatles and recent offerings from Meghan Trainor, Pharrell Williams and Taylor Swift.

There was also a performance of a piece which had been composed for the band – the Brackley March.

One of the band’s founding members received a special memento at the start of the concert.   Floss Tustain still loves her time playing with them.

She said: “I just enjoyed playing music, but then you get to do the social side as well and it just snowballs from there – you want to do more and more.   You are entertaining other people.

pic: Jenna Bruce

“It’s a great hobby.   Music is the language of the world.    It’s the only one where everybody speaks the same language.”

Dave Howard took over as the Brackley and District Band’s Musical Director at the start of this year and is now looking at moving forward from this special anniversary.

He said: “We really want to build the band up to full strength at the moment – we’re struggling a little bit in some sections.   We’re a bit short of players like a lot of bands are after COVID.  A lot of people stopped playing, so we’re trying to spread the word and get them back.

“In terms of the music I hope we’re playing music now that’s got wide appeal.   People still like to hear the traditional march and perhaps an overture.   But we’ve tried to fit in music across the decades, and as modern as we can from Taylor Swift and modern artists to try and attract a younger audience as well.”

pic: Jenna Bruce

The Brackley and District Band’s roots date back to 1972 when Des Stimpson and Floss Tustain found themselves with nowhere to play when they left school.   With Pat Carthew – a visiting brass teacher – they started a group which met on Sunday mornings.   In September 1973 when Brackley Secondary School became part of the comprehensive system the school’s band was suspended.   With nowhere to play the students joined the Sunday sessions, instantly giving the band a full compliment of players.

As Brackley Youth Band they won two cups and £25 prize money at an entertainment contest that year at Aylesbury Civic Centre.

When adult players joined the band the name was changed to Brackley and District Band.

The National Brass Band Championships were entered for the first time in 1974, and every year since.

Rehearsals take place at the band’s premises in Drayman’s Walk – formerly the Royal British Legion’s premises – which the band purchased in 1979.   

The Brackley and District Band concluded Sunday’s concert with a performance of The Floral Dance with the audience enthusiastically clapping along.  They will be appearing again at Brackley’s Service of Remembrance (November 12) and for Carol’s On The Piazza (December 17), with their Christmas Concert the following day.

Into the future Dave Howard is hoping to keep brass band music alive for future generations.   He said: “I’d love to think people will bring their children and make it informal – dancing in the aisles.   Let’s get much broader audience and get people even more enthusiastic for brass bands.”

Published:  by Banbury FM Newsteam

We recently enjoyed contest success at the Regional Brass Band Contest held at The Cube in Corby on 4 March 2023. Despite being a few players short, the band delivered an excellent rendition of the test piece “Hungerford Town” and was awarded a creditable 4th place out of a line-up of 15 bands, just one place short of qualifying for the ‘Finals’ later in the year and the Band's best result in recent years.

Each year Bands throughout the  country compete against other Bands in their region to determine who performs a set piece of music the best, according to the two adjudicators. The results from the last three contests determine a Band’s place within the league tables, with success leading to silverware, prize money and the opportunity to represent your region at the ‘Finals’. A Band that does well will also be more attractive to potential players looking to join a Band.

Our result this year together with our 7th place in 2022 puts us in a great position going into the 2024 contest with a very realistic chance of gaining promotion from the fourth section to the third section.

Alec Stageman came along to our Open Rehearsal at the beginning of this year and has continued to enjoy playing with the Band over the last few months. The contest was his first and he had this to say about his experience - “The day was an interesting insight into the brass band world. Everyone was very supportive of each other and I was made to feel welcome, like I’d always been there. We did very well considering myself and others were new to the band and the trombone section opened the piece with a solo feature. I also enjoyed the social time after. Can’t wait for next year.”

Recently appointed conductor Dave Howard said “I was delighted with the band's performance on the day.  They did everything I asked of them and have come a long way in the few months that we've been working together.  This all bodes well for the future as we work to build the band back up to full strength in this, its 50th anniversary year and I'm really looking forward to some exciting concerts and further competition success in the future.”

We would urge any brass or percussion players that are interested in coming to give us a try to get in contact and come along. We would very much like to fill up the remaining positions within the Band and in particular are interested to hear from the following – front row cornet, horn, euphonium, Eb bass, Bb bass and percussion. Instruments can be provided.

We are delighted to announce that we have appointed Dave Howard as our new Conductor. We have been working together over the last couple of months during which the Band have very much enjoyed his rehearsals. Dave has already shown that he is very encouraging and supportive as a conductor, making the players feel at ease, allowing him to draw the best out of each and every one, whilst also ensuring that we all have fun and improve. Our Christmas Concert was the main focus and this was very successful. We have received a lot of positive feedback from those who attended both in terms of the programme choice but also what a thoroughly enjoyable evening it was. There was no doubt in our mind that we would like Dave to continue with the Band so we were extremely pleased when he agreed to do so.




A good turnout from the Brackley community joined us on a wet Monday evening to enjoy a warm welcome and a festive programme of music and carols. Dave Howard, conducting the Band for the first time at a formal concert, opened with a rousing rendition of Christmas Joy, a popular March amongst brass bands at this time of year. The first half of the concert featured our flugel player Julie Jakeman with a lovely arrangement by Alan Fernie of the very well-known Away in a Manger before continuing with more traditional items such as Candlelight Carol by John Rutter and A Christmas Overture by John Golland.

Whilst our normal Band jackets had been substituted in favour of Christmas jumpers in the first half, the second half saw the Band adding further festive accessories such as hats and tinsel, as the music choices were intended to give the feel of a Christmas party. We opened with Merry Christmas Everyone, our solo cornet player Steve Utley followed this with a delightful performance of A Winter’s Tale. The party really kicked off with A Christmas Pop Collection, which as you can imagine was a medley of Christmas tunes and the audience were invited to see how many they could spot. The party then relaxed a little for Walking in the Air from ‘The Snowman’ before picking up again with I Believe in Father Christmas and finishing with Merry Christmas Everybody.

We very much enjoyed the evening and it was over all too quickly. Hopefully, those in the audience who enjoyed themselves will seek out our performances in 2023, our 50th Anniversary year.

We would like to thank St Peter’s Church for hosting us, all those who helped to make the concert happen and to everyone who came along. If you enjoyed the evening, please tell friends and family and bring them along to the next one. Details will be posted here on our website ( and on our Facebook page. If you haven’t already, please do like our Facebook page and leave us a review, telling us what you particularly enjoyed or perhaps suggesting what you’d like to see in our future concerts.

We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded £2,000 to fund the refurbishment of as many of our stock of instruments as possible to ensure that they are in excellent condition for when you come along and give them a blow.

Yes, that's right. If you are a brass player but don't have access to an instrument then do get in touch. We have a large collection of instruments that are available to members of the band and we'd really like to attract some new faces to come and give them a go. Our collection includes cornets, trombones, baritone horns, flugel and basses. 

The work is planned to take place over the coming months and we'll update you as the work progresses.