Band stalwart David Birch retires after 65 years

Members of Shipston Town Bands bid farewell to one of their longest-serving members this week when stalwart David Birch retired after 65 years.

David performed as principal euphonium of Shipston Town Band for the final time at Sanders Park bandstand in Bromsgrove on Sunday afternoon, after more than six decades of brass banding. And on Friday night he led his final rehearsal of Stour Concert Brass, which he founded, as its conductor after 25 years.

David told band members he had enjoyed every moment of his time with the band, but after so many years of commitment, now was the right time for him to stand down.

Howard Gibbs, the musical director of Shipston Town Band, said: “It is no exaggeration to say that Dave has kept the band going through good times and bad. Without him there would simply be no brass band in Shipston – so I say a huge thank you to him for all he has done over many, many years. We will really miss him and I wish Dave a very happy retirement from banding.”

As well as playing euphonium and conducting, David has been the bands’ secretary and librarian for many years – organising the vast majority of their activities from concerts and carol playing to marches and contests.

On Friday night, at his final rehearsal of Stour Concert Brass, David was presented with a commemorative book of tributes from past and current band members from the organisation’s chair, Liz Smith. The book contains around 50 tributes as well as historic photos. He also received from Gordon Sharp a framed collage of photos which spanned his career with the Stour Concert Brass, the community band which Dave founded 25 years ago.

David has handed over the baton to the band’s new conductor Nigel Hall (pictured on the left).

David entered his first contest with Shipston Town Band on Saturday 5 July 1958 at Cirencester as part of the Cirencester Carnival, performing In Switzerland by Eric Ball and The Middy by Kenneth Alford conducted by Bert Smith.