Christmas kicked off in style.

The weekend of the 9th and 10th of December saw the Senior Band kick off Christmas in real style. First of all a small group of players headed off to Bishopthorpe Club on December 9th to play carols at the annual Lollipop Christmas Party.

Lollipop is a charity supporting d/Deaf children and their parents and offers them a social environment where they can get together. The band have joined with the NCEM I Can Play programme over the last year to offer places in Brass Roots where d/Deaf children can take up playing a brass instrument. We are so excited to be part of this initiative and many members of the band have started learinig to sign using BSL as part of this. More on that Later!

December 10th saw the senior band head to the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall at the University of York where we put on three performances of The Snowman live. We were pleased to welcome Buffy Breakwell who accompanied us on the Grand Piano and Sophie Sylvester who provided stunning vocals in the iconic Walking in the Air. Thanks also have to go to York Concerts who partnered with us on both this and the recent Cory concerts and withouth whom we would have found this much harder to do.

We couldn’t just leave things there though and we added in a couple of extra pieces, the first was Into the Unknown from the film Frozen II and then we introduced something really new for the band. As we move into 2024, we are going to build on the work we have done with Lollipop and I can play and we are making our concerts more inclusive for our d/Deaf friends. The first step here is going to be the introduction of signing at our concerts. With this in mind our Principal Cornet player Sean Chandler, who is himself d/Deaf, taught the audience the BSL words for Merry Christmas Everyone having first explained the challenges faced in selecting the correct cutlery.

The feedback we have had was that the audience participation in this number was a real highlight for everyone who was there, and Sean has confessed he was quite choked up to see the players in the band not only getting involved in the signing themselves, but also giving a round of applause using signing at the end of the piece.

Sean teaching the signing for Merry Christmas Everyone

Thanks to Jenni Chandler for ther video clip.

Carolling and answering an appeal.

On December 21st, members of all our bands got together to play Christmas Carols for the residents of Amarna Care home in Macomb and Rowntree Lodge care home in New Earswick. This has become an annual event over the past few years and our players love giving something back to our local community. Of course, the mulled wine and mince pies are always make a welcome appearance.

This year we had another venue to add to our tour of York after we received an appeal to play for 99 year old Rowley from Heworth. Rowley has been a long standing fan of a Brass Band and of course we were happy to drop round on our way back to the band room. His neighbours were treated to an unexpected impromptu concert and came out to listen, his next door neighbour was very surprised on returning from her dog walk!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Youth Band “Lights Up” Selby Abbey

Light Up A Life is an event our bands have been proud to be part of for many years in York. This year is no different and Sunday saw our Youth Band heading off to Selby Abbey where they performed to a packed audience in aid of St Leonards Hospice. This really is one of the most important performances of the year for the Youth Band and they were superb as they always are.

A chilly success!

On December 10th, the Senior Band took on a new Christmas Challenge at St Andrews Church in Bishopthorpe when they performed the live soundtrack to a showing Raymond Briggs’ animated film “The Snowman”. This was a new experience for the band, playing film music is a very different performance to a concert performance and the build up to this has been quite intense.

The band was joined by Buffy Breakwell who played keyboards with us and Sophie Sylvester who provided the vocals for the iconic song “Walking in the Air”. Everyone in the band was really impressed with the professionalism and superb musical ability of both our guests for the day. We can only hope this will not be our last collaboration.

We could have sold the tickets for this ten times over so next year we will be back to do it all over again. Watch this space!

That wasn’t the only thing we did on the day though!

In the interval between performances, the band went along to Bishopthorpe Sports and Social Club to play Christmas Carols for the Lollipop children’s Christmas party. Lollipop is a charity for D/deaf children and their families in York and the band’s Principal Cornet player Sean Chandler is involved in making music with the children the charity works with.

When Sean asked if a few players could go, the whole band said yes. Playing “Away in a Manger” with a choir signing the words was such a powerful moment.

If you want to know more about Lollipop and want to support their work, check out their website.

Helping save lives in Acomb

After lockdown, the bands were only able to hold small rehearsals in our normal site and had to look for venues where they could hold more players. The Church of the Holy Redeemer on Boroughbridge Road stepped in and allowed us to use their church and church hall. When we discovered that they were looking to purchase a Community Public Access Defibrillator, the band returned the favour and put on a concert in the church as part of the fundraising efforts.

We are pleased to see that the Church has now been able to fund the deployment of the defibrillator and it is now available for use. It can be seen from the busy Boroughbridge Road and has been registered with Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS), meaning that any member of the public can access it, by calling 999 for instructions. The dispatcher will direct you to the defibrillator and will give you the key code for the cabinet. These are simple devices to operate and have voice instructions guiding you through how to use them. They are designed to be used by anyone and require no specialist medical training to use.

The fundraising efforts behind this defibrillator included our Senior Band and the Spirit of Harmony Men’s Barbershop Chorus. There was also help from the Pavers Foundation and Yorkshire Ambulance Service Charity.

Rev. Simon Biddlestone, Vicar of The Church of the Holy Redeemer expressed his thanks to all those who had helped with the purchase and installation of the defibrillator, saying : “I’m delighted that there is now a defibrillator here. It’s good news for the whole community as anybody can use it. We hope that it never needs to be used, but if it does it could save someone’s life.”

The other sponsors for the defibrillator are:

Have you ever thought what you would do if you came across someone who had a cardiac arrest? Yorkshire Ambulance Service have produced a video that tells you exactly what to do.

Shepherds Open Door To Virtual Flock

24th January 2021

The Shepherd Group Brass Band recently opened their virtual door to the local banding community. Having returned to rehearsals in the new year three evenings per week via Zoom, the organisation have now invited local bands and friends to join their online rehearsals. MD Richard Wilton said, “Having started Zoom rehearsals for four of our bands, I had the idea to invite our friends from local bands in and around our community. Now more than ever, our local band families must pull together; our survival is counting on it. Over 50 musicians have taken the opportunity to join us on a Wednesday evening during our Concert band rehearsal, where we have been enjoying working on Christopher Bond’s ‘Neverland’. We look forward to many more local brass players joining us in the near future, keeping North Yorkshire’s thriving banding scene motivated”. Anyone wishing to join our virtual rehearsals should get in touch with the band as soon as possible.

Holding Back The River

Holding back the river

12th April 2016

Photos from the concert

On 6th March our Concert Band had the great privilege of playing at the York Barbican in a special gala concert to help raise money for flood victims. The concert, which was named “Hold Back the River” featured artists from all over York and all proceeds went directly to those affected by the terrible floods over Christmas.

Concert Band MD Michael Pratt said:

“The Band felt so honoured to be asked to play tonight, the atmosphere has been amazing the whole band played brilliantly, I’m so proud!”


So far the York Disaster Fund has raised over £1,300,000 for flood victims and concerts such as this one are vital to keep the momentum on the appeal going so here at Shepherds we are delighted to have been able to help out.