It’s a very special day on Saturday 25th March as Lancashire Youth Brass Band will be competing in the National Youth Brass Band Championships at Stockport Grammar School.
It’s also a very special day for Musical Director Helen Minshall, as she and her husband Stephen will be celebrating their 40th Wedding Anniversary!
The couple first met in 1981. Helen was studying music at Salford, and Stephen was a member of Eccles Borough Band. They first met at a band rehearsal, and eventually got married on 25th March 1983, taking the entire Swinton Concert Brass Band on honeymoon with them to Pontins at Brean Sands for the Easter Brass Band Contest.
Wedding photo 25th March 1983 with brass players from Salford College
Helen and Stephen have played in brass bands all their lives, been on tour to many different countries, performed at the Royal Albert Hall together, and many other prestigious venues. Brass banding is a huge part of their lives and it means the world to them.
They have two children who grew up in the brass band world. Simon now age 31 lives in London and has made a big name for himself as a freelance professional bass trombonist. He’s currently working in the West End on the show “Back to the Future”. He met his wife, Kate, a euphonium player, at band practice at Bolton Music Centre when they were both 13. Their daughter Samantha now age 30 is a magnificent tuba player, and studied at RNCM. She teaches alongside Helen in the family company, Minshall Music LTD. She met her husband, Neil Raisbeck, a tenor horn player, at a band rehearsal at Marsden Band. Neil is the Lancashire Youth Brass Band horn tutor, and also works in the family company.
The Brass Playing Minshall Family Left – Simon and Kate Minshall Centre – Helen and Stephen Minshall Right – Samantha and Neil Raisbeck
Helen and Stephen formed Astley Youth Band in 1994, and the band has gone from strength to strength over the years, enjoying a great reputation for nurturing generations of young brass players, many who have carried on playing into adulthood. Helen spent 10 years as Musical Director of the Bolton Youth Brass Band, and with Stephen’s support, took the band on a magnificent tour to America in 2008. Since Helen took over as MD of Lancashire Youth Brass Band in 2015, Stephen has regularly attended concerts and tours to support the band and share his expertise.
What more fitting way would there be for Helen and Stephen to celebrate their 40th anniversary than by spending the day at the National Youth Brass Band Championships!