Helston Town Band has unveiled its new musical director following the departure of John Hitchens, who hung up his baton after ten years.
After a busy audition process, the band has announced the appointment of Derek Johnston to fill the role.
He will be well known to many in Cornwall’s band circuit, having played principal trombone for St Austell, St Keverne and Camborne town bands.
He was a member of Camborne Town Band when they won the World Music Festival in Kerkrade in Holland and has also toured Germany, Holland, France and Belgium, becoming National Champion of Great Britain in 1976.
In 1992 Derek was asked to conduct the St Keverne Band, beginning his |conducting career that led to periods at Heyl and St Stithians Band.
Most recently, Derek has returned to playing, and to the trombone, with Camborne Town Band.
Derek is now looking forward to taking up the baton with the world famous Helston Town Band, saying he was looking forward to “some great times ahead.”
He said: “It will be very difficult to better the band's immediate history, but I fully intend keeping the strong traditions of this band alive, whilst also looking forward to the future in a strong and positive way.”
A band spokesman said the band was “absolutely delighted” that Derek had agreed to take up the role, saying: “Derek’s enthusiasm for banding shone through during our audition process and this, |combined this with his vast experience of playing and conducting other bands, made us feel he was definitely the right person to take us forward.”
Born in Carlisle, Derek began his music studies at the age of five with his |grandfather John Johnston, who was bandmaster of the Carlisle Corp of the Salvation Army.
Derek played in the Ash Lee Boys School Band, sang in the school choir and toured with his teacher as a boy soprano.
It was at this time that Derek and his family moved to Yorkshire and at the age of 14, beginning his experience of Yorkshire banding, before his father, the late Derek Johnston senior, was appointed musical director of Camborne Town Band and the family moved to Cornwall.
Derek now lives in Helston with his wife, Teresa, and has two sons and a daughter, who were all born in the town.
The most recent addition to Derek’s |family is his granddaughter, Evie Lily.
Derek’s first engagement with Helston Town Band will be at Falmouth’s Events Square this Saturday (June 29), at 2pm,| followed by a busy summer calendar of events.
He is keen to develop the youth and training side of the band, saying: “We would be delighted to welcome players, regardless of age or ability, into the organisation. With a senior band, B band, Youth Band and beginners group we certainly have a band to suit all players and we would encourage anyone who is interested to get in touch with us.”
Details can be found on the band website www.helstontownband.co.uk or by calling 07971 301057.