Long service awards for Bathgate duo

Thursday 3 March 2022

Scottish Brass Band Association long service medals have been awarded to two members of Bathgate Band. The presentations were made by SBBA secretary Tom Allan to James Comerford and Brian Mitchell at the band’s annual workshop at Pitbauchlie Hotel in Dunfermline.

Both James and Brian have clocked up more than 110 years of brass banding between them.

James has served with Bathgate throughout his playing career during which he has demonstrated his versatility on a variety brass instruments. He started off on cornet and then, through the years, has had spells on tenor horn, baritone, euphonium, EEb bass and now BBb bass.  “Maybe the next move is to bass drum!” he quipped.

His playing highlights include winning the second section title in the National Championships of Great Britain twice and being first section champions at the Pontins Contest at Prestatyn and the National Mineworkers Championships at Blackpool.

James recollected: “It was very enjoyable to participate in the BBC Radio programme Let's Do the Show Right Here!! with hosts Jackie Bird and Fred MacAulay. I also remember fondly playing at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham in 1997.

“Over this time, it has been fantastic to see so many young people develop their musical skills with the band, some moving on to professional careers. I have thoroughly enjoyed all the years I have been involved with the band and hope to have many more to come.”

Brian started playing with Armadale Junior band in 1960. His father Davie Mitchell played Bb bass with Broxburn Public, but because the family lived in Armadale it was easier to start off in the local band.

It wasn't long afterwards, however, that he moved to join Broxburn Public Band where he played for many years.

He has since had spells with Livingston Brass, Bo'ness & Carriden, Kingdom Brass (twice), Scottish Coop and Kinneil (twice) before joining Bathgate in 2016.

At Armadale, he started on cornet but quickly moved to horn which he played for more than 20 years, He then found the perfect instrument for him in the baritone. “But playing it gets harder as you get older!” he remarked.

Brian has played at the British Open contest in Birmingham twice with the Coop. “It’s such a great venue for such a high end contest,” he commented.

The Albert Hall has also seen him playing twice over the years, the first time at the age of 15 with Carnival Romain. The All England Masters at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge was another contest where he played Paganini Variations with the Coop.

“Closer to home – and many years ago – Broxburn regularly played at the Edinburgh Charities contest in the Usher Hall along with the Edinburgh Festival Contest which was held in Prince's Street Gardens,” he recalled.

Brian added: “It was a pleasant surprise to receive this SBBA award as I have been playing for 62 years. I thought the moment had slipped me by!”

James Comerford and Brian Mitchell are presented with their long service awards by SBBA secretary Tom Allan


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Email Nigel Martin: sbbapr@gmail.com