A CENTURY of the people and music of Lydbrook Band have been celebrated in a new book.

Author – and Lydbrook bandsman – Andrew Mason spent a couple of years researching the story of the band for the book The Essence

of Time.

The title refers to one of the pieces of music the band played in its greatest achievement when it came runner-up in the 1994 National Championships of Great Britain at the Wembley Conference Centre.

The book had its official launch at the Speech House Hotel attended by several local dignataries including former band member Cllr Alan Preece, the chairman of Gloucestershire County Council, Chair of the Forest Council, Cllr Julia Gooch and Vice Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire Roger Deeks.

The band also welcomed previous members, some of whom like composer Gavin Higgins have gone on to have significant careers in music.

It was also an evening, of course for music with several pieces from the band under the baton of Ian Holmes who has been principal conductor for the last 14 years.

They included Serenata by the band’s composer Liz Lane which was dedicated to all those associated with the band that have passed away.

Robert Morgan – who is only the third secretary of the band in it history – put the idea of book to Andrew Mason.

He said: “About five years ago I spoke to my friend Andrew Mason and I asked him if he would think about writing a book for the band’s centenary.”

Mr Mason, who was first a member from 1982 until 1996, was happy to take up the challenge.

He said the book was principally the story of the people in the band over the last 100 years.

He added: “There are some statistics in there but I’m not really a statistics man, it is really about the people.”

He thanked his wife Karen for her help, sister-in-law Carol who went through the text to ensure it was correct and brother Paul, a prolific writer of Forest history.

Andrew has since re-joined the band although this time with training section.

He said: “About two months ago I decided it was time to go back and I joined the training band and I’ve absolutely loved it.

“Anyone should come and have a go – its such fun.”

President of the band, Peter Hands, told him: “It’s absolutely fascinating and thank you for the time and effort you’ve put into it.”

He presented the author with a voucher for a weekend break on behalf of the band.

Trevor Moss recalled some of the highlights of his 30 years with the band and what members got out of being part of what Ian Holmes dubbed “Team Lydbrook”.

They included playing at the Victoria Falls on a tour of South Africa and Zimbabwe and – closer to home – joining a midnight service with the Lydbrook British Legion on the centenary of the start of the First World War.

The band also carried on during the pandemic with socially-distanced practice sessions on Lydbrook Athletic FC’s pitch – where they were joined by an “audience of dog walkers.

Mr Moss also recalled Lydbrook Band’s role in popularising brass band music in Lithuania.

He said: “Most bands go on tour to Holland but we went to Lithuania where they had no brass bands.”

Band members later returned to the Baltic state with more than 100 brass instruments to get people playing.

“They had the European brass band championships – all started from what Lydbrook Band did.”

There was a special presentation to Mr Moss to mark his 50 years in brass banding.

He was presented with a certificate and badge from the Gloucestershire Brass Bands Association in recognition of his service to the brass band community by Robert Morgan.

He started his musical career in the Winchester area and he was chair of Lydbrook Band for 18 years.

The former policeman still plays with the National Police Orchestra.

Vice Lord Lieutenant Roger Deeks said the Forest brass bands played an important role for young people.

He praised their discipline in regularly attending practice sessions and concerts.

He said: “I was talking to somebody about youth organisations in the Forest and I said don’t forget the brass bands because they produce marvellous, disciplined young people.”

Emily Dodsworth, who recently became the first female chair of the band, said the band was a “family”.

She said: “I have played with a number of bands and I’ve never felt as welcome or part of the furniture as I do with Lydbrook Band and I think that is a feeling everyone gets.”

She also made a presentation to Robert Morgan and his wife Barbara who together have more than 100 years of service to the band.

“I can whole-heartedly say that without these two people Lydbrook Band would not be what it is today.”

Mrs Morgan was given a bouquet and Mr Morgan received a decanter of whisky which was embossed with the band’s logo.

The Essence of Time: Celebrating One Hundred Years of Lydbrook Band 1923-2023 is on sale now nd costs £10.