Les Maw

Les Maw
Les Maw
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LES Maw, one of the country’s most renowned brass band musicians, began playing with the Kirkbymoorside Town Brass Band at the age of nine.

Starting out on the cornet, he soon established himself as the band’s leading player, going on to become its bandmaster in 

Yet this coincided with a lean period for the group, the post-war years reducing it to a struggling musical ensemble with just a handful of players.

Mr Maw, who has died at the age of 90, coaxed and cajoled more members to join and succeeded in taking the band from the fourth tier of the National Brass Band Championships to the top section, recording some memorable results along the way.

In total, he led the band, which dates back to the days of the Battle of Waterloo, for some 36 years. He is credited with having the vision to recognise the need for a junior band to encourage young people to play instruments. He worked with constant drive and enthusiasm to motivate youngsters and was an inspirational teacher as well as a highly accomplished cornet player, trombonist and percussionist.

His efforts means the band now boasts five individual bands and more than 100 active musicians, his lasting legacy.

He was awarded the British Empire Medal on his retirement as bandmaster, and in 1988 was named Citizen of the Year in Kirkbymoorside.

Last October, the band and Kirkbymoorside residents held a special 90th birthday party for him, at which he conducted the band in the hymn tune Bradford, which he had transcribed several years previously.

A highly skilled agricultural engineer by trade, he worked for Russells of Kirkbymoorside for most of his working life, before joining Micro Metalsmiths.

Also a keen jazz musician, he regularly played with dance bands in the Ryedale area.

At his service, the band gave a special concert of Mr Maw’s favourite pieces, many of them competition items for which he had trained the senior band to compete against such giants as the Brighouse and Rastrick. A moving musical tribute was then given at the graveside with John Sails, the principal cornet player, playing Abide With Me.

Later, Kirkbymoorside was brought to a halt, as the band led a parade through the town centre to the Royal British Legion Club for a wake in his memory.

Mr Maw is survived by his younger brother Dennis and daughter Gill.

He was predeceased by his sister, Doreen, and his wife of 63 years, Frances, who died five years ago.