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Westoe Brass Band conductor passes on the baton

Jason Smith with members of Westoe Brass Band at Durham Miners' Gala.
Jason Smith with members of Westoe Brass Band at Durham Miners' Gala.

The conductor of South Tyneside’s oldest brass band is handing on the baton and stepping down.

Jason Smith has been at the helm of Westoe Brass Band for the last 13 years.

It’s been a fantastic experience working with the band.

Jason Smith, who is stepping down as conductor of Westoe Brass Band

However, the primary school teacher is now calling it a day and is handing over the responsibility to Lee Morris, from West Boldon.

At the weekend Mr Smith conducted his last outdoor gig at the Durham Miners’ Gala on Saturday.

The musical director said: “I’ve had a fantastic experience working with this fabulous band. I can’t say in a few words how much I have enjoyed working, playing and socialising with so many friendly and talented people.

“The highlights are many but perhaps most significantly are concerts at the Customs House, appearing twice at the finals of the National Brass Band Championships, recording for Radio 3 and directing the band’s recent CD ‘Call Of The Colliery’.”

Westoe Brass Band is one of the leading bands in northern England.

Founded in 1911 as the Harton Colliery band, it quickly established itself as one of the best in the country, becoming the first colliery band to win the British Open in 1919.

Harton Colliery later combined with Westoe Colliery, and subsequently closed, which saw the band renamed as the Westoe Colliery Band.

Since the closure of Westoe Colliery in 1993, members have worked with South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and built up a strong reputation for innovative and quality musicianship across the region, and nationally, with recordings broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4.

Mr Morris, a self-employed music publisher and retailer will be conducting his first gig at the Amphitheatre in Sea Road, South Shields, on Sunday, August 23, from 2pm.

The 29-year-old said: “It’s a pleasure to have been appointed as the new resident MD of the band. After having played with the band for the past 12 years, I can’t wait to get stuck in to the new role and carry on with the fantastic work that Jason has put in over the past 13 years.”