First woman musician joins all-male Yorkshire band

A musician has become the first woman to be offered a permanent position with an historic Yorkshire brass band.

Laura Hirst jumped at the chance to be the first female to play in the all-male Brighouse and Rastrick Band which began life more than a century ago.

The 27-year-old cornet player is undaunted by her new role in the champion brass band of Great Britain,

Miss Hirst, who works in the family business at a farm shop and teaches music, said: "It is a massive complement to be asked to be the first female and it's definitely an honour. I do not have a problem working with all men. They have all been absolutely fantastic and have all been really good to me. I think they just see me as an honorary bloke."

The musician was around eight years old when she began playing the cornet - almost by accident.

Miss Hirst, who lives in Saddleworth, said: "My mum and dad went out and took me to my granddad and grandma's to baby-sit. My grandparents sent me to a youth band for a peaceful evening. My mum said I took to it and I would be blowing my head off, making all sorts of rackets while she was trying to do her jobs.

"My parents have been fantastic, I could not ask for anyone to be better."

The perseverance paid off earning the young musician a place at Chetham's School of Music in Manchester when she was 11 years old before she went onto the Royal Northern College of Music.

Before joining Brighouse and Rastrick Band, Miss Hirst was a member of the Dobcross Youth Band and Dobcross Silver Band in Saddleworth and the Fairey Band in Stockport.

Brighouse and Rastrick Band president Paul Beaumont said: "Laura is an extremely talented cornet player and we are very pleased to welcome her to the band which I must admit was previously seen as a "Boys Only Club". Although Brighouse and Rastrick dates back to 1881 and has a long history of traditions the band recognises the need to move with the times and we are delighted that talent such as Laura's will be part our band."