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Contest Success for
Verwood Youth and Training Bands!


Musicians from Verwood Concert Brass had a great day out at the Wessex Brass Band Association contest for Youth and Training Bands held on Saturday 27th January 2018, and were delighted to win many prizes.

It was the first time that the Verwood Training Band (for players of all ages) had entered a contest but they did themselves proud by not only picking up the award for best training band but also for being the best band overall.


Furthermore, the Verwood Youth Band (for players under the age of 19) won the best youth band award and the Verwood Youth Ensemble (for a small group of under 19s) picked up the best youth ensemble prize.


Verwood Youth Band performing on stage


It was also great to see a number of the young Verwood players picking up individual awards in recognition of their excellent playing. Gold awards were given to Naomi Selby-Grace for her cornet playing and Emma Close who played a fabulous trombone solo ‘The Acrobat’. Jack Musselwhite was awarded a cup for best instrumentalist of the day – this was for his drum kit playing showing that there are great opportunities for percussionist within brass bands too. The award for best soloist of the day went to Amy Cooke for her fantastic tenor horn solo performance of ‘Feelings’.


Mike Dunnings, musical director and conductor of the Verwood Youth and Training Bands said "I couldn’t have been more delighted nor prouder of how each and every player performed. For many, taking part in a contest was a new experience and they came through it with flying colours and of course it was fabulous winning some prizes in recognition of their efforts.

Members of the winning Verwood Youth Ensemble
(L to R) Ellie Mullins, Archie Musselwhite, Naomi Selby-Grace, Amy Cooke, Emma Close and Jack Musselwhite.


Above all else banding is about having fun and enjoying making music together, so I was particularly pleased to hear contest adjudicator, Robert Nicholson, from the No 1 brass band in the world, Cory, sum up the day as one full of smiles from everyone on stage."

The doors of the Verwood Concert Brass band room are always open to new players of any age and of any standard, to come along and join the Training Band. Plus any brass players or percussionist under the age of 19 can come along to the Verwood Youth Band and do not have to become members of Verwood Concert Brass. For anyone interested, details can be found on the Verwood Concert Brass website.




VCB Supports 'Katie's New Wheels

The Verwood Concert Brass raises money through collections at the many carolling events. Some of the money collected is used to support the Verwood Concert Brass but some of the money raised goes to a chosen charity. This year the band chose to support ‘Katie’s New Wheels’ via ‘The Tree of Hope’ charity.

Katie in her brand new all-terrain wheel chair
surrounded by members of the winning Verwood Youth Band.

Katie, is 10 years old and recently joined the Acorns new starters group to learn to play the trumpet. As well as loving making music we found out that she would also love to be able to get out and about more in our beautiful New Forest and Dorset coastal countryside with Vinnie, her assistance dog. That’s not easy for Katie as she has cerebral palsy but an all-terrain wheel chair solved the problem through ‘Katie’s New Wheels’ charity which helped to fund the purchase of one, with donations from the VCB and The Sarah Kinsley Fund.

Verwood Youth Band celebrates

Verwood Youth Band competed in the Wessex Brass Band Association Youth and Training Band Festival on Saturday 28th January 2017 and celebrated by being awarded the cup for the Best Youth Band, and principal cornet player, Naomi Selby Grace, also won the trophy for Best Instrumentalist.

Helen Dunnings said "It is a real privilege to see these young players enjoy learning and making music together. We always welcome new brass and percussion players and have seen many young players progress through our Youth and Training Band and on to our 4th section Verwood Town Band and ultimately to our championship section Verwood Concert Brass Band."



Bass Section of Verwood Concert Brass
 Brings It Home

Verwood Concert Brass had a great day on Saturday 26th November 2016 in being crowned Champions of the Wessex Brass Band Association Winter Contest. A great achievement alongside the special awards of the South Wilts Cup given to conductor Kevin Smith for best musical interpretation of the score and the Kevin Bolton Plaque to Elaine Close, principal cornet, for best instrumentalist on the day.

All awards mean a lot but perhaps the winning of the Arthur Spencer Trophy for the best bass section meant just that little bit more when it was awarded to Verwood’s bass section of Nigel Tiller, Mike Dunnings, Duncan Smith and Jane Cottee (see picture).

The reason being is that this trophy was donated to the Wessex Brass Band Association in 2005 in memory of Arthur Spencer following his death at the age of 89 and Arthur was what can best be described as a very important part of Verwood Concert Brass’ heritage.

Arthur was the son of Tommy Spencer, a renowned bass player of his day who conducted Verwood and Shrewton Bands and was a past president of Wessex Brass Band Association. Arthur and his brother, Fred followed in their father’s footsteps and joined Verwood Band. Arthur was a successful euphonium player before joining the bass ranks where he was part of the team that saw Verwood Band rise from the Fourth Section to the Championship section in the late 1960s.

In 1979 Arthur was awarded, like his father before him, the National Brass Band Club award for playing for 50 years (see picture). He also received a similar award from the Wessex Brass Band Association. Arthur decided to retire from playing in 1985, aged 70, but retained his links as a Committee member becoming President of the Band in 1986. Arthur was very proud in 1995 when he opened the new Band Hall and it was fitting that the main hall was named the “Spencer Room” in his, and his family’s, honour for their contribution to Verwood Band over the years.

One of the bass players in Verwood’s winning bass section, Nigel Tiller, had the pleasure of playing alongside Arthur in the band before his retirement and had this to say: “Since 2005 we had seen other bass sections from other bands winning the Arthur Spencer Trophy and it was just a dream that one day we might actually win that Trophy ourselves and bring it home to the ‘Spencer Room’ in our band hall. But on Saturday that dream came true and it was a very proud moment indeed, made all the more special by the connection back to Arthur.

Arthur was a great bass player and even after he stopped playing he attended all the band’s concerts and took great pride in the band’s achievements and progress. He would have been delighted with Verwood’s recent rise back up to the Championship section and all the contest awards received but as a bass player I’m sure he would have been extra delighted with us winning the best bass section award.”




Verwood Concert Brass Youth Players 
win Wessex Contest.

Verwood Concert Brass’ young players did themselves and the organisation proud at the Wessex Brass Band Association Youth and Training Band Contest held on Saturday 30th January, at Trafalgar School in Downton, Wiltshire. Verwood Concert Brass entered the Youth Band section and the Youth Ensemble section, these are for players under the age of 19, and they came away with some fantastic awards which were presented by contest adjudicator, Captain Sam Hairsine of the Royal Marines Band Service.

The Verwood Youth Band, made up of 21 players and under the baton of Mike Dunnings, won the cup for the best Youth Band as well as for the best overall band across both the Youth and Training Band sections. It also won a further cup for playing the best hymn tune which bands included as one of the pieces they played as part of their varied programme of music.

The Verwood Youth Ensemble, which consisted of nine players conducted by Lloyd Bartlett, was awarded 2nd place in their section, with Jack Musslewhite winning a bronze certificate for his percussion playing and Oliver Bartlett, age 6, getting the cup for being the youngest player on the day.

Chairman of Verwood Concert Brass, Helen Dunnings said “It was a great day seeing and hearing all of the young players from all of the competing bands perform some wonderful music on the contest stage. I, and all involved with Verwood Concert Brass, were of course particularly proud of what our younger players achieved and the awards they won and it is so pleasing that as an organisation we can do our bit to nurture another generation of brass band players”.

The Verwood Youth Band was started in 2014, Verwood Concert Brass’ 150th anniversary year, not just for under 19’s who play in the Verwood Training Band, Verwood Town Band or the Verwood Concert Brass Championship band but for any other young brass and percussion players in the area who want the musical development opportunities and fun of playing in such a band.

The Verwood Youth Band have band practice every third Sunday of the month from 2pm to 4pm starting from March and would welcome along any young brass and percussion players.



Verwood Concert Brass victorious at Wessex Contest 
on Saturday the 28th November 2015.


On Saturday 28th November the Wessex Brass Band Association held its 59th Annual Winter Contest at the Life Centre in Winton, Bournemouth. 18 bands competed, some travelling from as far away as Medway in Kent and the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.

Verwood Concert Brass entered both its principal band, the ‘Verwood Concert Band’, and the ‘Verwood Town Band’ and came away with five trophies including the title of Wessex Champions.

The contest is what’s called an ‘open own choice competition’ which as Helen Dunnings, Verwood Concert Brass’s chairperson explained, “All the bands regardless of their standard compete against each other so there are bands who are in the Championship Section (The highest section) through to the 4th Section (The lowest section) who perform a test piece of music of their own choice to be judged by the adjudicator. The adjudicator, who cannot see which band is playing which avoids any unconscious bias, then ranks the bands as to which they think is best”.

The Verwood Concert Band is currently a 1st Section band and the Verwood Town Band is in the 4th Section of the West of England region, so both were up against potentially better, higher section bands.

At the end of a long but very enjoyable day, the results, when they were announced, could not have been better.

First of all the Verwood Town Band won the cup for best 4th Section band but not only that they beat a number of 3rd Section bands to take 15th place overall. Conductor of the band, Emma Button commented ‘I am so proud of the effort the band has put in during rehearsals and the result just shows it was all worthwhile. I could not be more delighted”.

This was followed by the Verwood Concert Band being awarded trophies for:

  • the best percussion section, thanks to Henry Boler, Ella Walker and Emma Graves,

  • the best instrumentalist, won by Elaine Close on solo cornet,

  • the best 1st Section band,

And . . . won the contest outright, beating three championship bands to become WESSEX CHAMPIONS!

But that was not all because the organisers had invited the Verwood Youth Band to perform a short concert during the lunch break. The Verwood Youth Band, which comprises of youngsters ranging from age 6 to 18, played fabulously to the absolute delight of the audience, which of course consisted of discerning brass band aficionados.

Kevin Smith who conducted both the Verwood Concert Band in its championship winning performance and the Verwood Youth Band and is also overall musical director for Verwood Concert Brass had this to say “It was such a wonderful day for the whole Verwood Concert Brass family with over 70 of our players taking part. The day started off with Verwood Town Band. Congratulations to Emma Button and the band. They did themselves proud. Then the wonderful Verwood Youth Band. It was an absolute pleasure being on stage with them and the future of brass banding looks very safe in their hands with such talent at their age. And finally the Verwood Concert Band. What a performance! I thank them all for all their hard work and dedication. Onwards and upwards!”

Helen Dunnings concludes “Winning contests is the icing on the cake, with the cherry on top, which brings its own level of enjoyment. It does help to show what a successful team we are at Verwood Concert Brass but contesting is only part of it. Our ethos is about enjoying making music together regardless of age or experience, so we would welcome new players who share that ethos to any one of our bands including brand new starters to the Verwood Training Band”.

For further information about Verwood Concert Brass and its forthcoming Christmas concert events please go to

The trophies from left to right.

  • Mike Dunnings (Band Master for the VCB) with the Best 1st Section band trophy.

  • Kevin Smith (Musical Director of VCB with the Wessex Champions Cup.

  • Sally Burrows (Band Master for the Town Band) with the Best 4th Section band trophy.

  • Emma Graves, a member of the team who won the Best Percussion Section trophy

  • Naomi Hewin, standing in for Elaine Close (Solo cornet player) who won the best Instrumentalist award.

Cornet and Percussion Section

Verwood Concert Brass                                          Verwood Youth Band          


Verwood Concert Brass joins the top flight after promotion to the Championship Section at the West of England Brass Band Regional Finals in March 2015 in Torquay.

Verwood Concert Brass will become a Championship Section band after yet another fantastic performance at the West of England Brass Band Association Regional Finals.

Band Master, Mike Dunnings said “This is like a dream come true, earning promotion to the highest level, and is an historic way to start the band’s 151st year. But unlike a dream this has actually involved a lot of dedication and support from everyone involved with Verwood Concert Brass to make this happen. It is amazing to think that back in 2006 the band was in the 4th Section but has continually improved and developed to earn the right to be in the top flight. The journey has been a great experience and also a lot of fun too”.

For those unfamiliar with brass banding the country is split into eight regions and in each region there are leagues, like in football, with the top section being the Championship Section and then Sections one down to four. Every March regional contests are held presenting an opportunity for bands to win prizes and very importantly get promoted to a higher section or indeed relegated to a lower section.

Over the weekend of the 14th and 15th March around 80 brass bands, which means over 2,000 musicians, from Cornwell, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Hampshire descended on Torquay to battle it out in the West of England Regional Finals. Verwood Concert Brass was up against 14 other bands in the 1st Section and was picked out of the hat to be the 2nd band to play the very challenging set test piece of music, ‘A London Overture’ by Philip Sparke.

The band’s conductor, Kevin Smith was absolutely delighted with their performance saying ‘I could not have asked for anything more from any of the players. Every single one of them performed how I knew they could, with confidence and skill, but most importantly they played as one complete team. It was an absolute privilege and delight to be on stage with them”.

Playing 2nd meant a long wait for the results whilst the rest of the bands took their turn to perform and there is always a fear that the adjudicators might forget just how good bands who played early on were. When the results were announced a great cheer went up from the band and its supporters when Verwood was awarded 3rd place.

Mike Dunnings explained why even coming 3rd meant so much. ”Promotion isn’t about being a one hit wonder. It’s about being consistently good over a period of three years. Our 3rd from this year was added to our 4th from last year’s contest and our 3rd from the year before that, giving us a total of only 10 points – the lower the better. That’s a very low score and was 3 clear points clear of our nearest rival and that’s what earned us our well-deserved promotion from the 1st Section to the Championship Section. We are really looking forward to the challenge that will present”.



Verwood Youth Band success at the Wessex Youth and Training Band Festival.

The Verwood Youth Band took part in the Wessex Brass Band Association Youth and Training Band Festival on Saturday 31st January and came away with the Youth Section 1st prize and Royal Marines Cup. Plus the band’s principal cornet player, Emma Graves, was awarded the Woodfalls Trophy for the best soloist of the day from any section.

The Verwood Youth Band rehearsing.

The Verwood Youth Band was formed only a year ago to help nurture not only the under 19 year old members of Verwood Concert Brass but other young brass and percussion players in the area. The band under the musical direction of Kevin Smith, were required to played a 20 minute own choice programme which had to include a hymn. The programme they played comprised of ‘Singing in the rain’, ‘Amazing Grace’, the hymn – ‘Blaenwern’, the march – ‘Slaidburn’ and the soloist piece performed by Emma, ‘My love is like a red, red rose’.

After the last band had played and the adjudicator was assessing the results the participants and audience were treated to a mini concert by the Championship Section Woodfalls Brass Band. The whole event was sponsored by the Royal Marines Band Service with the adjudicator being Captain Sam Hairsine, Assistant Director of Music at the Royal Marines School of Music. He summed up the day by saying he was both pleasantly surprised and encouraged not only by the numbers of young players taking part but also the quality of playing which boded well for the future.

Kevin Smith, (musical director of Verwood Concert Brass) who conducted the band said “I really enjoy having the opportunity to rehearse and then present such an enthusiastic and talented group of young musicians. They can all be very proud of what they have achieved.”

Emma Graves, winner of the best soloist prize, for the second year running said “It is always special to be awarded a prize as it makes the practicing all the more worthwhile. I was especially pleased to have received the award from Captain Hairsine of the Royal Marines School of Music as my ambition is to join the Royal Marines Band Service when I finish my A levels in 2016”.

The Verwood Youth Band would welcome more under 19 brass and percussion players to come and join them. For details please contact Mike Dunnings via email to or phone on 07791 340870.


Verwood Concert Brass wins South West Championship
in Torquay on the 1st of November 2014.

Verwood Concert Brass earned themselves a fantastic result at the 68th Annual Championships of the South West Brass Band Association held on Saturday 1st November 2014 in Torquay to take part in the 'Open Section' of the contest . Not only did they win the special award for the highest placed First Section Band but also won the contest out right. It was an 'Own Choice' event meaning each band could choose a test piece to play and Verwood’s test piece choice was 'Spectrum' by Gilbert Vintner. 

Band chairman and cornet player, Helen Dunnings said ‘This is a great achievement for the band. We have been putting in some consistently good contest performances but in the past have just missed out on winning some silverware. Coming away with the winning cup and special award for highest placed First Section Band has given us all a real boost and is great recognition for everyone’s hard work and efforts.

Verwood Concert Brass’ next contest will be one closer to home; the Wessex Brass Band Association Winter Contest taking place on 29th November at the Life Centre, Bournemouth.


Verwood’s two brass bands do the town proud
in March 2014.

Photograph of ‘The best ever Verwood Concert Brass “B” Band . . . so far!’ after being placed 9th out of 21 bands competing in the 4th section of the West of England Brass Band Regional Championship Contest in Torquay 8th March 2014.

March is a very important month in the brass band calendar. All over the UK bands are competing in the national brass band championships. Over the weekend of the 8th and 9th March over 70 bands in the West of England region descended upon Torquay to do battle.

Most towns only have one band competing in the championships but because of the exceptional number of players in Verwood Concert Brass it was able to send two bands to represent Verwood.

The “A” Band competed in the 1st Section against 13 other bands and did brilliantly by being placed 4th. Although not a podium finish, unlike last year where they were placed 3rd it proves that the band can consistently perform at a high level which puts them at the top of the table for next year.

Musical director, Kevin Smith explained “The championships run on a league basis with the two bands with the lowest score over three years being promoted and the two with the highest score demoted. Our 3rd from last year and 4th from this year means our score of 7 gives us the lowest score going into next year’s contest. Another good result will see the band promoted to the top championship section”.

To be in this position is a great achievement when only last year the band was at serious risk of being demoted to the 2nd section. It demonstrates just how well the band has come on under Kevin Smith’s directorship.

The “B” Band competed in the 4th section which is a tough section given that there are 21 bands and not forgetting that Verwood’s 2nd band was up against many town’s main and only band.

Over the last three years the band has been placed 19th, 20th and 20th and so the band were overjoyed with achieving 9th place this year; a huge improvement. In fact this is the best result the B Band has ever had by a country mile.

Barry Harkcom, Musical Director of the “B” Band said “I was so pleased the band were awarded a very creditable 9th place as it is just reward for all the hard work and effort everyone in the band has put in to improve their performance. It is made all the more rewarding that a number of players have come up through the Verwood Training Band and for about half a dozen players it was their first ever experience of contesting. This result gives a great foundation to build on.”

Verwood Concert Brass President, Pam Reeks, who earlier in the year received a British Empire Medal for services to the community which includes her involvement in the band, said “I could not be more proud of our bands and the great results they achieved. It continues the great start to our 150th anniversary year.”


Emma Graves-soloist winner


Rowan Powis-youngest player

Verwood’sYouth Band gets  new off to a flying start with contest success.

 On Sunday 12th January 2014 history was made as it marked the formation of the brand new Verwood Youth Band, set up as part of Verwood Concert Brass, and only two weeks later it has already won trophies!

 Although Verwood Concert Brass, now in its 150th year, has a long tradition of nurturing brass players of all ages from beginners in its Training Band, good players in its B Band and on to top talent in its A Band, it has never had a Youth Band.

 Although youngsters gain a lot from playing in a band alongside experienced adult players there is also a lot to be gained from them playing in a group of other like minded and enthusiastic youngsters. What’s more there are youth band contests which are not only great fun but give a sense of purpose and a measure of progress.

 So it was that the Verwood Youth Band or VYB for short was established to not only give Verwood Concert Brass’ under 19 year old players such an opportunity but also other young players in the area the chance to gain that experience.

 Mike Dunnings of Verwood Concert Brass and the driving force behind the setting up of the Youth Band said “Although we already had a core of good young players within Verwood Concert Brass we needed more to make up a whole band. We put the word around that all young players would be welcome to come along but to be honest it was a bit of a leap of faith as to how many would turn up for the first rehearsal.

New Youth Band in in February 2013

picture Stour and Avon Magazine



Best Ever Result for Verwood Concert Brass at the West of England Brass Band Regional Finals in March 2013 in Torquay.

60 musicians from the A and B bands travelled to Torquay and became known as the VCB Green Army. The A Band competed in the 1st section and came 3rd overall amid cheers, beating relegation to the second section.
Verwood concert Brass consists of 3 bands and any players of any ability wishing to join then please contact:-
enquiries @ 


All the ladies of Verwood Concert Brass recently formed an all female band,
Blushing Brass, to hold a special fund raising concert in 2013.
Facebook: VerwoodConcertBrass

£1,000 raised for Breakthrough Breast Cancer

Jan Tiller, the driving force behind the initiative commented “I was inspired by the fund raising activity of another all female band “Boobs & Brass” and thought we have more than enough ladies in Verwood Concert Brass to do something similar.”

Jean Murray accepted the cheque on behalf of Breakthrough Breast Cancer  for £1000. She said "this money will allow us to continue fighting breast cancer by finding the cause of breast cancer, improving detection, diagnosis, treatment and services.”



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