Reading celebrate first place win

Reading Spring Gardens Brass Band

Sunday 20th October 2019 was another historic day for the Reading Spring Gardens Brass Band. It saw the band enter the Oxfordshire & District Brass Band Association’s Entertainment Contest, not as an ungraded band, but as a band registered nationally in the fourth section.

However, it was somewhat of an emotional day as it was at this venue, the Marlborough School in Woodstock, where the band played in February earlier this year at the Association’s Winter Contest, unknowingly for the last time, under the baton of its late Musical Director David Ruel.

The programme

The band’s entertainment programme was presented by Chloe Sheppard and conducted by Matthew Ruel, son of David who led the band to another prize winning performance which opened on the march ‘The Call of the Brave’ by the Danish composer Jacob Vilhelm Larsen.

Following this, the band introduced its first soloist in Jack Porter – the band’s principal cornet player. Jack chose to play a relatively new arrangement and addition to the brass band repertoire, a song composed by Brian May and which also featured the band’s flugelhorn player Nigel Winter.

Adjudicator Duncan Beckley commented:

Good opening, and the soloist plays with style. ‘A’ – good; ‘B’ – good; ‘D’ to ‘E’ – good; ‘E’ – good band accompaniment; ‘F’ – well done flugel.

Duncan Beckley

Adjudicator Gordon Eddison added:

So nice to see a soloist playing with no music or stand – very effective and persuasive.


A march, a rock song, followed by a folk song written by the singer-songwriter Archie Fisher entitled ‘The Witch of the Westmerlands’. Arranged by Philip Harper this descriptive and emotive arrangement featured Michael Fowkes on baritone.

Adjudicator Duncan Beckley remarked:

Good atmospheric opening; 2nd bar of ‘A’ – well done baritone; B – good horns; ‘C’ – well done solo cornet; 4 before ‘D’ – well done flugel and solo horn; ‘E’ – lovely band sound; ‘F’ is well handled throughout; Last 3 bars a touch untuneful; but a good close.

duncan beckley

Building to a rousing finale the band closed its entertainment programme with the climatic conclusion from Edward Gregson’s ‘Variations on Laudate Dominum’.

The Result (Section ‘B’)

The band’s efforts in the rehearsal room and delivery on the contest stage saw Duncan Beckley award first prize for music to the Reading Spring Gardens Brass Band.

1Reading Spring Gardens (4)Matthew Ruel11188
2Olney Brass (3)Kevin Nicholls7186
3Hemel Hempstead (4)Paul Fothergill10184
4Witney Town (4)Chris Barker12182
5Great Western Youth (4)Ben Halstead2179
6Shipston Town (4)Howard Gibbs8178
7Chinnor Training (4)Alison Andrews3176
8Coventry Festival (4)Allan Wheelhouse6174
9Yarnton (U)Guy James9172
10Watford (4)Ian Graves1171
11City of Oxford Training (U)Catherine Westbury-Cook5168
12Moulton 77 (4)Kevin Spencer4166

(*) Section

The Reading Spring Gardens Brass Band proudly carry the title of current Oxfordshire & District Brass Band Association Winter Contest (Unregistered Section) and Entertainment Contest (Lower Sections) champions.

Thank you to all competing bands, the organisers and of course our audience for an enjoyable day of brass band music making.

The Reading Spring Gardens Brass Band now looks forward to performing ‘In Concert’ in our rehearsal home of Christ Church, Woodley on Saturday 9th November at 7:30pm. For tickets please telephone box office on 01189 414920 or visit

The player line-up whose efforts all contributed to this historic success under the baton of Matthew Ruel are listed as follows:


Chloe Sheppard

Soprano Cornet

Kevin Edwards

Solo Cornets

Jack Porter, Jenni Hall, Rebecca Devaney, Graham Netherton

Back Row Cornets

Megan Hope, Ella Smith, Philip Edwards, Oliver Williamson


Nigel Winter

Tenor Horns

Cheryl Heppenstall, Jacqueline Ruel, Emma Scicluna

Euphoniums & Baritones

Robin Welch, Michael Fowkes, Louise Lloyd, Julia Bonewell


Chris Newton, Mark Hawkins, Nigel Allery

EEb Bass

Adam Steele, Theo Leach

BBb Bass

Thomas Gowers, David Holmes


Jake Perrett, Eleanor Pearson, Philip Davey