Town honours band legend

Les Maw BEM, Kirkbymoorside Brass Band

Les Maw BEM, Kirkbymoorside Brass Band

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Kirkbymoorside came to a halt last Saturday when the funeral was held for the doyen of the historic market town’s legendary Town Brass Band, Les Maw.

Renowned throughout the Yorkshire brass band world, the 90-year-old was bandmaster for 36 years and had trained scores of youngsters to play.

He was awarded the British Empire Medal for his work with the band, and in 1988 became the town’s Citizen of the Year.

His daughter, Gill Gardner, said in a tribute: “Dad showed determination, energy and enthusiasm in every aspect of his life. He had a love of teaching. Everyone who came into contact with him liked and respected him.”

He and his wife, Frances, had been married for 63 years when she died five years ago.

The current bandmaster, John Woodward, said: “Les had a hugely influential role in Kirkbymoorside Town Brass Band. Without him, it would not have become the band that it is today, with over 100 active musicians, a senior band that flits between championship and First Section status, and a self sustaining support structure with the local community that bodes well for the future.”

Mr Maw had joined the band when he was just nine, playing the cornet, and was a leading player until he became bandmaster in 1952.

“In the post-war years, the band had become a struggling musical ensemble with just a handful of players,” said Mr Woodward. “Les coaxed and cajoled during the early lean years and gradually took the band from the fourth section in the National Brass Band Championship world, to the top section, with some memorable contest results along the way.

“Les had the vision to recognise the need for a junior band to encourage young people to play instruments. He worked with constant drive and enthusiasm to motivate youngsters. He was an inspirational teacher as well as a highly accomplished cornet player, trombonist and percussionist.

The band remains Les’s lasting and ever grateful legacy.”

In October, the band and local residents held a special 90th birthday party for Mr Maw, who conducted the band in the hymn tune “Bradford” which he had transcribed several years previously.

A highly skilled agricultural engineer by trade, Mr Maw worked for Russells of Kirkbymoorside for most of his working life, before joining Micro Metalsmiths.

In addition to being the bandmaster, Mr Maw was an accomplished player of the horn, trombone, drums and was a keen jazz musician, and regularly played with dance bands in the Ryedale area.

Before the packed service in All Saints’ Church, the band gave a special concert of Mr Maw’s favourite pieces, many of them competition items for which he had trained the senior band to compete against such giants as the Brighouse and Rastrick.

After the service, a moving musical tribute was given at the grave side with John Sails, the principal cornet player, playing Abide With Me.

Later the band lead a parade through the town centre to the Royal British Legion Club for a wake in Mr Maw’s memory.

Mr Maw who was one of three children, is survived by his younger brother Dennis, and daughter Gill. A sister, Doreen, died some years ago.

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